An inexperienced Indian side managed to pull off a 2-1 upset over World No.4 the Netherlands through goals from Gurjant Singh and Mandeep Singh. The Indian team was led by Manpreet Singh and featured nine players from the junior team and Manpreet couldn't hide his joy at the result.
India started the game on the offensive as they put pressure on the hosts. It paid dividends as they drew first blood through a penalty corner awarded in the fourth minute. Though Varun Kumar’s drag flick was padded away by the Dutch keeper, Gurjant Singh was quick to pick up the rebound and work his reverse stick magic to put the ball high up into the net and score his first international goal for the men's side.
And the early goal allowed India to continue on the offensive as they ventured into the striking circle at will and Armaan Qureshi was only a whisker away from doubling India’s lead with a shot that went just wide. The sides went into the second-quarter with India still holding the early goal advantage, but as expected the home side come out strong in the second quarter, winning a penalty corner in the early stages. However, the flick was brilliantly saved by Indian goalkeeper Akash Chikte. And that set the tone for the Dutch to go all out in their quest for an equaliser as they put more pressure on the Indian defence with three more penalty corners, but they could not make the opportunities count with Chikte staying up to the challenge.
With a 1-0 lead, the third quarter saw the Netherlands make desperate attempts to come back into the game but India absorbed the pressure well, only to execute a stronger defensive structure that kept the Dutch from scoring.
The final quarter saw India increase their intensity in attack with Gurjant winning a PC, but it was saved. But the very next minute Sumit won another penalty corner for India for which they tried a different variation and it did the trick as Mandeep deflected the ball high into the net to double India’s advantage.
Soon after, the Dutch won a PC but debutant goalkeeper Suraj Karkera was up to the task to defend. With final three minutes remaining, Dutch forwards made three strong shots on goal but an alert Karkera kept them from converting. However, Sander de Wijn, through a PC, scored in the 58th minute but that didn't stop India from walking away with a 2-1 win. The result also meant that India swept the 2 match series 2-0.
Speaking after the win an elated Manpreet said, "I think we played well in all departments to win against the Netherlands. They are a very experienced team with more than eight players with over 100 International Caps. So, to beat them we had to come up with something special,” reported TOI.
"I am very happy with the way the entire team performed as one unit especially the players making their debut. They showed no sign of nervousness and played with a lot of confidence," he added.
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