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Sports: India men start their hockey campaign with a big win over Ghana, Pakistan men lose

India needed a big win to send down the message that it was a strong contender for podium finish.

Hockey competition in the Commonwealth Games continues to provide shocking and exciting results. On the third day while India, looking for its first ever gold medal in the Games, started in style with a fluent 11-0 win over Ghana, New Zealand surprised Pakistan 4-1 while England managed to beat Wales 4-2. In the women’s section, Canada went down fighting to England by a solitary goal and Australia continued its winning spree with a fluent 5-0 win over South Africa.

Indian men launched their campaign on a satisfactory note with deep defender and drag flicker, Harmanpreet Singh, playing his 150th international, notched up a hat-trick of goals as India raced to 11-0 win.

Besides Harmanpreet Singh, other drag flickers in the team – Jugraj Singh (two) and Varun Kumar – were also among the scorers. It must have been a satisfying day for the Indian team as seven of its players got their names on the scorers list.

India needed a big win to send down the message that it was a strong contender for podium finish. The win would serve as a great morale booster as India take on the hosts England in its second game on Monday.

Though, it was Abhishek who opened the scoring for India in the  opening minute. The goal came from a rebound of a penalty corner taken by Harmanpreet Singh. Before the end of the first quarter, India had built a comfortable 3-0 lead following second and third goals by  Harmanpreet Singh and Shamsher Singh.

In the second quarter. India increased its lead to 5-0 following goals by Akashdeep Singh and Jugraj Singh. Jugraj converted a penalty stroke in the 23rd minute, four minutes after Akashdeep scored a field goal.

Though Ghana players put up a spirited fight and threatened to break Indian defence repeatedly but were unlucky not to score even once. The Africans forced seven penalty corners but did not succeed in getting past either PR Sreejesh or  Krishan Pathak, who took turns at Indian goal.

After a change of ends, India continued to torment the Ghanian defence by scoring at regular intervals. In the second half, India added six more, starting with a penalty corner conversion by Harmanpreet Singh in the 35th minute followed by a full-blooded strike by Nilkanta from the middle of the striking circle in the 38th minute.

Deep defender Varun Kumar made no mistake with a powerful low flick from a penalty corner in the 39th minute before Jugraj Singh scored from a penalty corner in the 43rd minute.

Mandeep Singh took the score to double figures with a good field goal in the 48th minute and Harmanpreet Singh completed the tally with another flick into the roof of the net in the 53rd minute.

After playing 2-2 draw with South Africa in its first match, Pakistan suffered a reverse by losing 1-4 to New Zealand in its second game.



Prabhjot Singh

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