Hockey

South Africa's superb show sinks India

India’s Sandeep Singh celebrates after scoring againstSouth Africa in the third hockey Test on Thursday. Photo: S. Subramanium

India’s Sandeep Singh celebrates after scoring againstSouth Africa in the third hockey Test on Thursday. Photo: S. Subramanium   | Photo Credit: Photo: S. Subramanium

South Africa gave its best performance in the series so far to stun India 3-1 in the third hockey Test at the National Stadium, here on Thursday.

The keen contest between the two sides in the bone-chilling weather was the only source of warmth. South Africa surprised India with its hardworking and aggressive effort to narrow the gap down to 1-2 in the five-match series.

Lloyd Madsen (21st), Ian Haley (35th) and Craig Haley (55th) hit the target for the winning team, while Sandeep Singh converted a contentious penalty corner awarded to India in the 49th minute.

Attacking approach

The host, fielding two new forwards in the experienced Rajpal Singh and the young Yuvraj Walmiki, adopted an attacking approach right from the outset.

The visitor gave a befitting response, but could not breach the Indian defence until goal-keeper P.R. Sreejesh rushed forward and Sandeep touched the ball with his foot to concede a penalty stroke. Madsen happily grabbed the opportunity as South Africa went up 1-0.

The South African goal-keeper blocked a Sandeep drag-flick in the 29th minute to foil India's quest for the equaliser. To make matters worse, Ian scored off a cross from the left to help the tourist take a comfortable 2-0 lead at the breather.

After the change of ends, the home team, guided by its skilful centre-half Sardara Singh, intensified the attack from both the flanks. However, South Africa handled it with some tough tackling and solid marking. The host also paid the price of spoiling several opportunities, mostly due to poor passing.

Sandeep's goal off the second short corner was the only bright spot for the Indians. The South Africans were sharp in their counter-attacks and benefitted from swiftly switching positions. One such rapid move sealed the fate of the match, when Craig tapped in a ball from the right flank.

India orchestrated many a move and gained two more penalty corners. However, South Africa was better prepared to thwart the attempts.

Michael Nobbs attributed the loss to “poor basic skills” of the Indian players as well as the missed chances. He promised to field stronger teams in the next two matches.

The result: South Africa 3 (Lloyd Madsen, Ian Haley, Craig Haley) bt India 1 (Sandeep Singh).

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 11:48:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/South-Africas-superb-show-sinks-India/article13372350.ece

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