CWG: Indian men’s hockey team loses bronze medal playoff

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Gold Coast (Australia), April 14 (IANS) India’s men’s hockey team lost 1-2 to England in the bronze medal playoff at the 21st Commonwealth Games here on Saturday.

Sam Ward’s penalty corner conversion led to England’s first goal in the 6th minute. But India restored parity 20 minutes later with a successful penalty corner conversion from Varun Kumar.

Ward gave England again the lead in the 43rd minute, employing a reverse-hand drive past P.R. Sreejesh after his initial drag-flick was blocked by runner Amit Rohidas.

India had problems in defence throughout the tournament and it was no different on Saturday.

Though India had good ball possession in the initial minutes of the first quarter, England were far more dominating with intense attack, making spaces in the striking circle.

First it was the experienced Barry Middleton who took a potential shot on goal in the fourth minute but was slightly off the mark.

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An Indian infringement gave away the first penalty corner of the match. Though Ward’s attempt was blocked away by India’s first rusher Rohidas, in his second attempt Ward kept it low as he successfully found the right corner of the post, taking a 1-0 lead.

Stung by conceding the opening goal, India failed to gather any kind of rhythm. With good man-to-man marking by England, making successful forays into the striking circle for the Indian forwards was hard to come by.

After several attempts, India’s first breakthrough, however, came in the 26th minute when Mandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay worked in tandem to win the team’s only penalty corner of the match. A well-thought variation between Rohidas and Varun fetched India a much-needed equaliser.

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Scores levelled at 1-1, the third quarter was closely fought. While India began on an attacking note with Lalit taking a shot on goal in the 31st minute, Mandeep couldn’t find the right deflection to score.

Although India’s attack picked up steam, defensive errors on their part gave away two crucial penalty corners in the 39th and 42nd minutes. While, Ward’s first attempt was brilliantly saved by P.R. Sreejesh, England relied on their No.1 drag-flicker yet again in the 43rd minute to take the strike.

This time, though first rusher Rohidas successfully blocked the drag-flick, but on rebound Ward used a strong back hand shot to once again find the right corner of the post that helped England regain the lead.

Down by a goal, India desperately looked for opportunities to score but England’s defence was relentless, not wanting to repeat what happened in their previous tie when India scored in the last two minutes of the match.

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Forward Akashdeep Singh took an ambitious shot on goal but missed the mark in the 45th minute.

Seconds later, skipper Manpreet attempted a shot but couldn’t convert into a goal.

England, meanwhile, won two penalty corners in the 50th and 54th minutes, but on both occasions different variations couldn’t help in stretching their lead by two goals.

Two minutes from the end of the match, India claimed a field goal after Akashdeep thought nudged home but a video referral by England was upheld saying there was a obstruction for the goalkeeper to react. It also denied India a penalty corner while the English defence stuck together to keep the lead to win the match.

–IANS

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