Hockey

Walmiki does it for India

MATCH-WINNER: Yuvraj Walmiki was India's hero as his brace ensured a fine series victory against South Africa. Photo: S. Subramanium

MATCH-WINNER: Yuvraj Walmiki was India's hero as his brace ensured a fine series victory against South Africa. Photo: S. Subramanium  

Yuvraj Walmiki scored a brace as India rallied to beat South Africa 4-3 in the fourth hockey Test match at the National Stadium here on Friday.

Down by a goal in the first half, the host scored through Walmiki (44th, 53rd minutes), V.R. Raghunath (50th) and S.K. Uthappa (56th) to seal the five-match series with a 3-1 lead after the penultimate engagement.

South Africa gave a tough fight with goals from Justin Reid Ross (14th), Ian Haley (56th) and Llyod Madsen (64th).

The touring side was the more aggressive of the two in the first half and opened its account through Reid Ross's reverse flick. However, it could not beat Indian goalkeeper Bharat Chetri in the two penalty corners that came its way prior to the break.

India's performance upfront was not up to the mark. The home team, nevertheless, was successful in slowing the game down and tiring the opponent out.

Fightback

India staged a fightback when Sarvanjit Singh dribbled into the circle and Walmiki slotted in a cross from the right to level the scores nine minutes after resumption. This triggered a spate of goals and suddenly the home side had the visitor on the mat.

South Africa conceded two penalty corners through defensive errors. Raghunath sounded the board and Walmiki, who was error-prone on the flanks, struck again from a resurrected ball to make the most of the opportunity.

Haley pulled one back from a fast Lloyd Norris-Jones ball from the left. But Uthappa shot home from a goalmouth scramble to make it 4-2 in favour of India.

Madsen converted a short corner six minutes before the hooter. However, South Africa failed to get a draw.

More practice needed

Chetri and Ignace Tirkey made some good attempts even as the Indian backline looked shaky throughout the contest. India's chief coach Michael Nobbs said more practice would improve India's defensive performance.

Nobbs backed Walmiki despite the mistakes committed by the youngster. “He is a consistent scorer and he is coming back from an injury,” said Nobbs.

The result: India 4 (Yuvraj Walmiki 2, V.R. Raghunath, S.K. Uthappa) bt South Africa 3 (Justin Reid-Ross, Ian Haley, Lloyd Madsen).

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 3:49:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/Walmiki-does-it-for-India/article13373903.ece

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