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Champions Trophy 2016 | India edge Great Britain to go top of the table

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Champions Trophy 2016 | India edge Great Britain to go top of the table

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Arun S Kaimal

06/11/2016

India defeated hosts Great Britain 2-1 in their second match of the 2016 Champions Trophy at London on Saturday to move to the top position in the table with four points from two matches. Mandeep Singh and Harmanpreet Singh scored the goals for India, while Ashley Jackson scored for the hosts.

On a rainy day at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, India took on hosts Great Britain in their second match of the tournament. After wasting a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 against defending champions Germany yesterday, India needed a win against the Great Britain team to remain in the fray for a place in the final. On the other hand, Great Britain also earned a draw in their opening match after they produced a defensive masterclass against World Champions Australia.

India on the back foot

India’s defensive fragilities were visible to all in the last quarter against Germany, and they started the match against Great Britain repeating the same mistakes. The home team, which is a combination of England, Scotland, and the Wales hockey teams, earned two penalty corners in the opening five minutes with the Indian defense caught in sixes and sevens. PR Sreejesh stood tall and kept the ball from creeping into the Indian goal, but the dominance of Great Britain was evident. India, who finished fourth in the last edition of the Champions Trophy, barely went out of their half in the first quarter managing just one circle entry. On the other hand, the home team entered the circle eight times and managed six shots in the opening quarter.

‘Counter-attack’ the India way

By the second minute of the second quarter, all the stats which favoured Great Britain looked totally meaningless. India, who were nowhere in the opening quarter, scored with their first shot as Mandeep Singh pushed one over the line. The World No.7 side had used counter attacks to outfox the German defence, and they did the same today. After a Great Britain attack, India started from the back, and with three passes they found SV Sunil, who used his pace to reach the striking circle before squaring the ball to Mandeep.

The goal gave India the momentum they needed, and the circle entries and shots, which were not there in the first-half, started creeping up all of a sudden. India used the counter-attacking moves again after the break and snatched a penalty corner in an attempt to double the lead. VR Raghunath wasted two back-to-back opportunities, but he found Great Britain captain Barry Middleton’s shoulder with the second flick. The umpire awarded a penalty stroke and Harmanpreet Singh stepped up to take India to a 2-0 lead.

Ashley Jackson brings GB back

Although India had a 2-0 goal lead, their defensive problems allowed the home team a chance every time they attacked. After wasting opportunity after opportunity, Great Britain finally managed to cash in on a chance in the 35th minute through a penalty corner from Ashley Jackson. Kothajit Singh made a mistake in the shooting circle, and Ashley Jackson produced a powerful flick from the resulting penalty corner to beat PR Sreejesh in the left-hand top corner of the goal.

With the home team back in the match, India headed into the last quarter with the memories of yesterday’s match in the back of their mind. India had given away a two-goal lead in the last quarter yesterday, and the same was once again on the cards with the defense looking shaky. But, India survived the scares to keep the scoreline the same at the end. The hooter sounded to signal the end of the match and the Indian players celebrated thinking they have won the match. But the drama was not finished. Great Britain appealed for a penalty corner and the umpire referred it after most of the players exited the ground. A few more additional minutes remained a real possobilty, but the third-umpire quashed Great Britain's hopes by rejecting their referral. With the win, India moved to the top of the table with four points from two matches. India will next face Belgium in their third match on June 13, Monday. 

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