India overcame some nerve-wracking moments and a stiff Irish challenge to post a 3-2 win in the second round men’s competition of the Hero Hockey World League (HWL) at the National Stadium here on Thursday.
With its third victory on the trot, the home team remained seated at the top of the table with nine points. The 15th-ranked Ireland, placed four slots below the host, was static at the second position with six points.
Tipped as the best match of the event, the India-Ireland clash had all the ingredients of a quality entertainer. Ireland unleashed its physical, fast-paced and well-coordinated game to test India’s resilience.
Led by the superb Sardar Singh, the home team replied with equal intensity to win back possessions and craft several raids.
India garnered five penalty corners in the first-half and scored off the fourth one to open its account in the 15th minute. Rupinderpal Singh launched a grounder to defeat rival goalkeeper David Harte.
The Irish team, which hardly gave a loose pass, applied pressure in the later half of the opening period to earn three short corners in quick succession. Conor Harte scored the equalizer with a reverse flick following a variation off the team’s third penalty corner.
The host attacked with renewed vigour after the change of ends and restored its lead within four minutes. V.R. Raghunath had no problem in hitting the target from India’s first penalty corner after the break.
However, Ireland again levelled the scores amid some quick exchange of attacks. An unchallenged Eugene Magee’s reverse hit from the left stunned the Indian defence in the 51st minute.
The home side answered back with a fine goal from Dharamvir Singh. Teenager Mandeep Singh took the ball into the circle and overcame an Irishman to release it for Dharamvir to finish off the move.
India showed signs of nerve in the closing moments to concede three penalty corners, including two in the last two minutes. However, it managed to ward off the Irish threat and prevented the match from going into the penalty shootout.
The results: China 4 (Yanjun Su 13, 37, Mi Ji 60, Tao Li 69) bt Fiji 1 (Adrian Smith 55); Bangladesh 4 (Pushkor Khisa 38, Sheikh Mohd. Nannu 51, Mahmud Rashel 60, Mohd. Moinul Islam 68) bt Oman 1 (Anwar Saad Jumman 65); India 3 (Rupinderpal Singh 16, V.R. Raghunath 39, Dharamvir Singh 56) bt Ireland 2 (Conor Harte 27, Eugene Magee 51).