Hockey

Olympic Test Event: India men, women make it to the final

Star of the match: Mandeep Singh was at his fluent best as India outplayed Japan.

Star of the match: Mandeep Singh was at his fluent best as India outplayed Japan.   | Photo Credit: Frank Uijlenbroek

Mandeep stars with a hat-trick as men swamp Japan; women hold China goalless

Striker Mandeep Singh struck a fine hat-trick to help the Indian men’s hockey team beat host Japan 6-3 and enter the final in the Olympic Test Event here on Tuesday.

The Indian team bounced back from its 1-2 loss against New Zealand with an impressive display in its third match at the Oi Hockey Stadium here. India again faces New Zealand in the summit clash on Wednesday.

Mandeep found the target in the 9th, 29th and 30th minutes while Nilakanta Sharma (3), Nilam Sanjeep Xess (7) and Gurjant Singh (41) were the other scorers for India.

Kentaro Fukuda (25th), Kenta Tanaka (36th) and Kazuma Murata (52nd) scored the goals for Japan.

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Nilakanta gave India an excellent start through a field goal in the third minute. Buoyed by the early lead, the Indian team put tremendous pressure on the Japan defence as Gurjant Singh took a shot on goal, but saw his effort going wide of the post. Soon Nilam Sanjeep converted a penalty-corner for the team to go 2-0 up.

India continued to be aggressive and Mandeep found the back of the net with an excellent field goal in the ninth minute.

Japan tried to make inroads in the last few minutes of the first quarter and won a penalty corner. Gurinder Singh positioned himself brilliantly and defended the shot on the goal line. India led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Japan managed to open its account through Kentaro Fukuda who scored a field goal in the 25th minute, but Mandeep stuck in quick succession in the 29th and 30th to help India take a 5-1 lead.

Japan started the third quarter on an aggressive note and found a field goal through Kenta Tanaka in the 36th minute.

India forward Gurjant found the back of the net in the 41st minute to make it 6-2. Japan scored its third goal through Kazuma Murata in the 52nd minute.

The win put India in the second spot in the points table and its faces topper New Zealand in the summit clash on Wednesday.

Women impressive

Following an impressive performance against Australia, the Indian women’s team on Tuesday secured its place in the final of the Olympic test event by playing out a 0-0 draw against China here.

The Indian team looked in good rhythm during the initial stages of the first quarter, and constantly built pressure on the Chinese defence.

The side looked comfortable in possession, and rotated the ball well to threaten the opponents in the opening 10 minutes, which also reflected when it won its first penalty corner in the 8th minute.

India’s penalty corner expert Gurjit Kaur stepped up to take the set-piece, but could not find the back of the net as the Chinese Goalkeeper Dongxiao Li deflected the ball away from danger.

India started the second quarter also with great attacking flair, and won another penalty corner in the 17th minute. Gurjit Kaur tried to aim for the other side this time, but her try was again denied by Li. The following minutes saw both the teams battle it out in midfield, with neither team giving much space and time to their opponents.

China needed the victory to make sure that they progress to the final but India’s defence was up to the task.

With five points from three matches, India topped the points table, and will now face host Japan in the final on Wednesday.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 11:16:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/olympic-test-event-india-men-women-make-it-to-the-final/article29184537.ece

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