India squanders lead twice, draws with Great Britain

Akashdeep Singh celebrates with his teammates during a match.

Akashdeep Singh celebrates with his teammates during a match.  


India squandered the lead twice as Great Britain rallied to earn a 2-2 draw in a rain-delayed opening match of the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Saturday.

Akashdeep Singh (19th minute) and Mandeep Singh (48th) scored field goals to give India the lead twice, only to see Britain hit back through Tom Carson (25th) and Alan Forsyth (52nd).

India survived a last-minute penalty-corner that was awarded against it for an obstruction outside the circle. The penalty-corner was confirmed after a video referral by India, but Britain’s captain Phil Roper sent his drag-flick wide to the right.

In the last encounter between these two teams, India had won 2-1 in the Champions Trophy in London last year.

The match started two hours behind schedule after the teams had to scurry off the turf due to lightning and heavy showers in the afternoon.

As the players ran off the pitch and the start deferred, the organisers were bracing for frequent disruptions during the week-long tournament.

India is scheduled to play four of its five round-robin league matches in the afternoon, exactly when dark clouds tend to drench the pitch at the Ipoh hockey stadium.

Great Britain launched the first raid in the ninth minute as Henry Weir took a reverse shot at the goal from top of the circle, only to see goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh pad the ball away.

Three minutes later, Akashdeep beat a defender guarding the circle with a shot that went straight to S.V. Sunil inside the scoring zone, but he failed to trap the ball and the British ’keeper Harry Gibson was not tested.

India was awarded its first penalty-corner when Pradeep Mor’s diagonal ball landed on a defender’s foot in the circle. The penalty-corner shot could not be taken as the push was not stopped, but Manpreet Singh, the skipper for this match, picked up the ball on the 25m line and sent a firm drive into the circle. His shot was padded by Gibson and the rebound went straight to Akashdeep, who beat the custodian with his flick and put India in the lead in the 19th minute.

Britain found the equaliser in the 25th minute when a fine foray by Ollie Willars split open the Indian defence. Dribbling parallel to the goalline from the right flank, Willars sent a pass to Carlson, who made the most of his fine positioning.

India had its second penalty-corner cancelled on a video referral by Britain, which challenged the umpire’s view of a defender carrying the ball. When several replays could not conclusively establish whether the ball had touched a defender’s foot, the video umpire reversed the decision.

India reclaimed the lead in the 48th minute when Sunil relayed a narrow-angle pass from Manpreet on the left for Mandeep, who deflected the ball past Gibson.

India’s lead was short-lived as Britain made the most of its 52nd-minute attack in a crowded circle. The Indian defenders were not able to clear the ball, which was switched around four opposition players before Forsyth’s flick beat Sreejesh.

The results:

India 2 (Akashdeep Singh 19, Mandeep Singh 48) drew with Great Britain 2 (Tom Carson 25, Alan Forsyth 52).

New Zealand 1 drew with Australia 1.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 7:57:59 PM |

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