FIH Pro Hockey League | India end campaign with third-place finish after loss to the Netherlands
With the championship title at stake, the Netherlands pulled off a 2-1 win against Indian Men's Hockey Team here in the FIH Hockey Men's Pro League encounter on Sunday. This win saw the hosts claim the FIH Hockey Pro League title while India ended their campaign with a third-place finish.
Abhishek (1') was the lone goal scorer for India while Jip Janssen (7') and Jorrit Croon (45') scored for the hosts. India had gotten off to a rollicking start with a goal in the opening minute of the match through Abhishek who made a brave foray into the striking circle and took a valiant shot on goal.
Although the early 1-0 lead by India put the Dutch side on back foot, they did not do anything out of the order under pressure but instead built on their attack which helped them win PCs. Jip Janssen taking the penalty corner was on target with a fiercely struck drag-flick that went past India's experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh at a blistering pace.
Only a minute into the second quarter India created a brilliant opportunity when Harmanpreet Singh made a long pass to forward Gujrant Singh who took a fine shot on goal. But a stick tackle by a Dutch defender saw India being awarded a penalty stroke. However, the chance was lost with Pirmin Blaak displaying impeccable skills to stop Harmanpreet's flick aimed at the top right pocket. Only minutes later, Dutch launched a fine attack that saw them create a PC but an alert Sreejesh continued to impress with excellent saves.
With scores tied at 1-1 when the teams went into the half-time break, it was an even battle in the following two quarters where both teams worked their strategies to create scoring opportunities. Though in the first half, the Dutch dominated with ball possession and circle entries, India upped the pressure in the third and fourth quarter with an improvised ball possession and circle penetration, creating a number of opportunities through PCs as well as field-goal chances. However, they couldn't get clear shots that could beat the Dutch defence.
Meanwhile, the hosts did not fumble in their attack as they converted from a PC in the 45th minute. A well-worked set-piece saw Jip flick the ball to the left flak which was perfectly deflected by Croon fetching that much-needed 2-1 lead. Backed by home support, Netherlands defended the score till the final hooter, thus clinching the championship with two more matches to be played against Spain. India, on the other hand, ended their campaign with 30 points on the table and Belgium have ended their campaign finishing second on the pool table.