India defeated Great Britain 2-1 in the closely fought quarter-final of the Hockey World League Finals at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Hockey Stadium in Raipur on Thursday. The hosts will now face the winner of the tie between Argentina and Belgium in the semi-final on Saturday.
Great Britain and India went into this quarter-final fixture on the back of contrasting forms. India finished the group stage at the bottom of Pool B, managing just one point in three games. The home team were also the lowest scorer in the tournament with just two goals. In contrast, their opponents were the highest scorers with 11 goals in three matches. On paper, there was just one winner in this game.
India made two changes to their starting line-up for this game, bringing in both Amir Khan and Raghunath Vokkaliga.
India conceded an early penalty corner when Jasjit Singh fired the ball onto Raghunath's leg inside the shooting circle. Indian custodian PR Sreejesh, however, once again came to the rescue and kept out Ian Sloan's shot in the 11th minute.
Great Britain were pushing hard for the opening goal, but the Indian defence kept their shape, led by Raghunath, who made a lot of crucial interceptions. The World No.4 side switched their attack to their left wing, but Raghunath swapped side to shore up the defence.
In the 12th minute, Simon Mantell got free down the right wing and was close to picking out Phil Roper at the far post, only for Sreejesh to dive and make another crucial interception.
At the other end, Dan Fox continued his amazing run of form at the heart of the Great Britain defence as he stopped a host of Indian attacks.
Raghunath opened the scoring for India at the start of the second quarter when the home team received a penalty corner. The drag-flicker found the back of the net with a low, and hard, shot into the right hand side bottom corner to score his first goal of the tournament.
Amir Khan came close to scoring a goal in the 34th minute, when he capped a silky run with a diving shot only to hit the bar. Couple of minutes later, it was Ramandeep Singh's turn to hit the woodwork. Some lovely interchange of passes between Sardar Singh and Ramandeep set the forward through on goal. With the goalkeeper charging out to cover his angles, Ramandeep lifted the ball over Bailey and hit the post.
Talwinder Singh doubled India's lead in the 39th minute, and the goal arrived from a wonderfully crafted counter-attack. Kothajit Khadangbam picked out Talwinder with a beautiful lofted pass and the youngster took the ball around the on-rushing Great Britain goalkeeper James Bailey, before finding the goal with a shot from a tight angle.
Simon Mantell pulled one back for Great Britain in the 52nd minute as the World No.4 team finally converted a penalty corner. But it was not enough as Indian managed to quell multiple raids by the Brits to finish the match 2-1.
The hosts will now face the winner of the tie between Argentina and Belgium in the semi-final on Saturday.