Bhubaneswar: India were knocked out of the Men’s Hockey World Cup on Thursday as they went down to the Netherlands 1-2 in the quarter-finals on Thursday. India have not reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 43 years and they will now have to wait longer.
India had taken the lead when Akashdeep Singh (12’) scored off a penalty corner rebound. But Thierry Brinkman (15’) equalised for the Dutch and Mink van der Weerden’s 50th-minute drag-flick was enough to put them in the World Cup semi-finals for the 10th time. The Netherlands will take on Australia on Saturday for a spot in the final.
India and the Netherlands started off with some pulsating end-to-end hockey, with the crowd’s cheer sounding like a big wave crashing on to a silent shore. Lalit Upadhyay, from the edge of the Dutch circle, attempted a cross to Simranjeet Singh in the eighth minute. But the latter, in front of the goalmouth, couldn’t latch on to the pass.
The hosts’ wait for their first goal, however, didn’t last long. With three minutes left for the first quarter to end, they got their first penalty corner of the night.
Harmanpreet Singh was called on to drag-flick the ball into the net. The Dutch ‘keeper Pirmin Blaak dived to block the ball but before he could clear it away from danger, Manpreet Singh dived in from the left flank. Akashdeep Singh rushed forward and tomahawked the ball into the top of the net.
The joy of the men in blue and thousands of their compatriots cheering from the stands, though, was short-lived. The Netherlands equalised in the last minute of the first quarter.
Mirco Pruijser bisected six Indian defenders with a powerful drive from the 23-metre line. Amit Rohidas dived in an attempt to stop the ball but it went past him. Thierry Brinkman, who was right behind him, redirected the ball into the net, silencing the crowd for a few minutes.
The Dutch had come close to scoring a goal before but Robbert Kemperman’s shot was parried away by a composed PR Sreejesh at the net.
The second quarter was more subdued compared to the first. Both teams had just three circle entries each and there were only two shots on goals. The Dutch defenders were solid and so were their counterparts – they let the Netherlands attempt just two shots on goal for an entire half.
The crowd went wild seconds before the third quarter’s end as Mandeep Singh slotted the ball into the net. But it wasn’t a goal as Simranjeet’s cross had deflected off Nilakanta Sharma before reaching Mandeep.
The Dutch, too, had a similar moment in the final quarter as they celebrated after Jeroen Hertzberger slotted the ball into the Indian net. But on reviewing, it was found that the ball had deflected off Bob de Voogd’s foot.
But the Dutch got a reason to celebrate again in the same quarter when Mink van der Weerden wrong-footed the Indian ‘keeper PR Sreejesh and drag-flicked the ball into the net to put his team into the lead for the first time in the match. The Indians were short of an on-rusher in the short corner as Amit Rohidas was penalised for making an early rush in the Dutch team’s earlier attempt.
India took off their ‘keeper with three minutes to go but Amit Rohidas’s yellow card and a missed penalty corner with five minutes to go didn’t help the hosts’ cause.