Indian hockey teams will return from the 2018 Commonwealth Games without a medal after the men went down 2-1 in the bronze medal play off against England on Saturday.
Manpreet Singh-led India, who had won the silver medal in the last two edition, paid the price for their lack of finishing skills as England rode on Sam Ward’s penalty corner conversion in the first and third quarters to finish on the podium. Varun Kumar scored India’s lone goal through a penalty corner just over three minutes from half time.
In the morning, the Indian women’s team had suffered a 6-0 loss against their English counterparts.
The men had defeated England in the group stage but were unable to piece together any attacks in the third-place play-off. They were once again slow off the blocks and by the time they manage to find their rhythm, were already a goal down.
England broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when Sam Ward converted the second penalty corner by beating goal-keeper PR Sreejesh on his right.
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Manpreet Singh and company then showed some purpose by attacking from both flanks but their inability to finish off moves kept haunting them as the equaliser was elusive.
It finally came in the 27th minute through a penalty corner conversion. With both Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet Singh off the pitch, Amit Rohidas gave a short pass to Varun Kumar and the defender made no mistake with the drag-flick to score his second goal of the tournament.
India could have gone ahead in the very first minute of the second half but Mandeep Singh could neither trap not deflect Lalit Upadhyay’s cross a feet away from goal. The Indians managed a period of sustained pressure for the next five minutes but couldn’t find any another goal.
And they were duly punished for the same when Sam Ward earned his team a penalty corner in the 43rd minute and then beat Sreejesh with a reverse hit following a block from runner Amit Rohidas.
India’s best chance for an equaliser came in the 53rd minute with both Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh needing just a comfortable touch to score. But Dilpreet went for a wild swing and missed the ball all-together, instead hitting a England defender and giving a free hit to the opposition.
With just about two minutes left for the final hooter, India build a good move from the left and Lalit Upadhyay’s hit from the top of the striking circle was stopped by England goalkeeper George Pinner but Mandeep Singh and Dilpreet Singh could do nothing on the rebound.
The umpire did point to a stroke following the melee but Pinner successfully asked for a video referral and ended India’s hopes of any comeback.