Hockey: India beat England (3-2) in shootout to top FIH Pro League table
Bhubaneswar, April 2, 2022
India pipped England 3-2 in a dramatic shoot-out to earn a bonus point in the first leg of their FIH Pro League tie at the Kalinga Stadium here on Saturday.
India are now with five wins and top the league table with 18 points. England, on the other hand, stayed seventh with two wins and seven points.
The teams were levelled 3-3 at the end of the regulation time with Abhishek (13’), Shamsher Singh (26’) and Harmanpreet Singh (51’) scoring goals for India. Bandurak Nicholas (7’, 27’) and Sam Ward (59’) were the scorers for the visitors.
In the shootout, Harmanpreet Singh, Vivek Prasad and Shamsher Singh missed their chances but Abhishek scored twice and a conversion from Raj Kumar Pal gave India the bonus point.
As per FIH Pro League rules, if scores remain level at the end of regulation period (four quarters), the match is considered a draw and both teams get a point each. A shootout follows, and the winner of the shootout bags an extra bonus point.
England, ranked world No. 7 in the ranking three places below India, took the lead as Nicholas converted a penalty corner in the seventh minute (1-0).
The lead, however, was short-lived as the hosts drew parity through a superb field goal by Abhishek before the end of the first quarter (1-1).
In the second quarter, India upped the ante and were rewarded with a penalty following a defensive error by England in the 26th minute. Shamsher Singh converted to give his side the lead (2-1).
In the very next minute, England bounced back. The visitors won their third penalty corner of the match and Nicholas, once again, produced a clinical finish to beat veteran goalkeeper Sreejesh (2-2).
Despite having better possession, India ended the first half with only six circle penetrations compared to 16 by England.
England quickly settled in the third quarter and won a penalty corner in the 36th minute. Sreejesh, however, cleared the powerful drag-flick to deny the visitors the lead.
England dominated possession and continued to penetrate the circle but Indians crowded their defence to keep the rivals at bay.
After a goalless third quarter, India came out with renewed intent and threatened a disciplined England defence on more than two occasions.
Harmanpreet Singh finally helped the hosts earn their first penalty corner which he himself converted with a searing drag-flick on the right of England goalkeeper Payne Oliver.
India continued the attacking game and earned their second penalty corner with three minutes to play. Harmanpreet, who is one short of his 100th goal, passed the ball to Jugraj who missed an easy chance.
The miss came back to haunt India as England earned a crucial penalty stroke with just 14 seconds remaining. India took a desperate review but the decision stood before Sam Ward easily converted past the Indian goal-keeper (3-3) to force a shoot-out.
India and England will play their second match on the same turf on Sunday.