Indian men’s hockey team were held to a 2-2 draw by a spirited Canada side on Friday in their last group match. Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh scored the goals for India, while Scot Tupper pulled two back for Canada leaving India’s final position in Argentina’s hands as they play later today.
India were the dominant team on the field in the initial minutes, and with the Canadians failing to hold on to the ball, India had a free run in the middle. In the ninth minute, Nikkin Thimmaiah had the first chance to put India ahead, but Canadian goalie David Carter denied him. The Karnataka forward had another chance a few minutes later, but Carter once again stood tall between India and the goal to keep the match deadlocked at 0-0.
India won their first penalty corner of the match in the 13th minute, but the Canadian defenders saved it and they countered to catch the Indian defence in sixes and sevens. Canada had a huge chance to score a goal, but Matthew Guest put the ball wide of the goal to waste the opportunity. But, it was clear. Canada, who had lost all their group games, were here to give India a run for their money, and they did it again in the second quarter.
Although India dominated the ball throughout the first half, the forwards failed to get past David Carter, who was on a mission to stop everything coming his way. Manpreet Singh had a good chance to put India ahead in the 17th minute, but Carter once again proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the Indians.
While Carter was keeping everything out, Brenden Bissett and Matthew Guest gave the Indian defenders a hard time on the other side. Bissett had a chance to open the scoring in the 27th minute after he beat PR Sreejesh, but Rupinder Pal Singh cleared it on-the-line to keep the scoreline 0-0. Even penalty corners failed in front of Carter and his defenders. When the goalie was beaten, the defenders put their stick and
To add insult to injury, India lost forward SV Sunil also in the second quarter after he crashed into the advertisement barrier. The forward left the field in the stretcher as India ended the half 0-0.
India broke the deadlock early in the second half through Akashdeep Singh. The young forward smashed one into the goal from a rebound with a reverse stick to defeat Carter at the near post. India were finally ahead, but the lead did not last long. The Canadians won their first penalty corner a minute later, and they scored from their first opportunity to beat PR Sreejesh. Skipper Scott Tupper flicked the ball to the right of Sreejesh, and the Indian goalie had no chance.
Six minutes later, Ramandeep Singh restored India’s lead after a brilliant move. Canada sat deep hoping for India to pass around, but the men in blue went for a direct approach, and VR Raghunath sent a long-range scorcher into the middle hoping for a touch from the Indian stick, and Ramandeep Singh dived to the right to deflect the ball into the back of the net.
With seven minutes to go for the end of the match, Nikkin Thimmaiah made an unnecessary challenge outside the circle to give Canada a penalty corner. As with their first opportunity, Scott Tupper once again struck from the spot. He beat Sreejesh on his right hand side to bring the match once again back to level terms.
The match finally ended 2-2, leaving India’s hopes of finishing third in the group in the balance. Their position in the group will now depend on the result of the match between Argentina and Ireland later today.