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India survives anxious moments to hold England to 4-4 draw in Commonwealth Games hockey

India blew away a comfortable first half 3-0 lead to hold England to a 4-4 draw in the Commonwealth Games hockey competition for men in Birmingham on Monday.

India blew away a comfortable first half 3-0 lead to hold England to a 4-4 draw in the Commonwealth Games hockey competition for men in Birmingham on Monday.

India, after getting a comfortable 3-0 lead in the first half, survived some anxious moments in the closing stages of the game with its strength reduced to nine players in the fourth and final quarter. In fact, India conceded three of four goals, between the 47th and 50th minute, when it had reduced strength on field. When England scored its fourth goal, India had only nine players on the field as both Varun Kumar and Gurjant were cooling their heels on benches with yellow cards.

India started on an impressive note taking the lead as early as the second minute. It was a penalty corner flick by Harmanpreet that saw the rebound coming to Lalit in the middle of the circle. Lalit made no mistake to the cheers of Indian fans in the stand. Two minutes before the end of the first quarter, mercurial forward Mandeep Singh made it 2-0 with a great deflection.

He continued his good work as the game resumed in the second quarter with yet another brilliant strike in the 22nd minute.

Indian woes started as the game resumed in the second half. A few unforced errors and a couple of rough tactics saw the Indian players earning the wrath of the umpires. First it was Varun Kumar, who got a yellow card and later in the fourth quarter, it was Gurjant Singh, who also got a 10-minute suspension.

For Varun Kumar it was a day he would love to forget fast. After serving a five-minute suspension, it was an unfortunate deflection from his stick that started England’s fight back. The goal came in the 42nd minute. A minute later, he got his second yellow card for 10 minutes.

It was in his absence that England got three more goals in the  47th, 49th and 50th minute to restore parity. N. Bandurak was the main tormentor for India.

Reduced to nine players in the 52nd minute with Gurjant Singh getting yellow card for 10 minutes, India fought with its back to the wall to prevent any further goals and to end the day with even honors.

With a single point from this game, India continues to remain at the top of the table with four points on better goal average. England, too, has four points.

In another exciting game in the men’s section, South Africa defeated Scotland 5-4.

In the women’s section, Scotland went on a scoring spree to defeat Kenya 11-0 while Wales got the better of Ghana at 4-0.

 

 

Prabhjot Singh

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