India survived a barrage of attacks in the first half and could not give a finishing touch to their dominance against England, held to a goalless draw in their second league match of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 at the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.
Both India and England had started their campaigns by winning their opening matches against Spain and Wales.
So, their clash on Sunday was expected to be a battle for the top spot in Pool D and the first half of the game proved the expectations were accurate as an edgy half of hockey unfolded in Rourkela in front of a packed crowd, with neither team giving an edge, and neither gaining one.
Despite several penalty corners and opportunities for both teams, there was no finishing touch to the attacks as the teams went into the break at level footing. England earned five penalty corners in the first quarter but failed to capitalise on any of them. India had only one PC in this period.
India got into the rhythm in the second quarter, earning three penalty corners compared to two by England.
The second half saw the hosts, ranked fifth as compared to England at sixth, dominate possession and territory with midfielder Hardik Singh being the standout player, but once again there were no finishing touches to be found in the circle.
Mandeep Singh did get the ball in the back of the goal towards the end of the 3rd quarter but the whistle had already been blown for a foul before the goal. Phil Roper was on the end of a great long pass, which just left him with the keeper to beat, but his attempt to lift the ball over goalkeeper P.R Sreejesh went just wide and India breathed a sigh of relief.
The final scoreline remained 0-0, but a major concern for India will be the health of standout player Hardik Singh who appeared to pull up with a groin injury towards the end of the game.
English keeper Oliver Payne was awarded player of the match and said: “We had a good game overall but are a little disappointed not to have capitalised on the scoring opportunities we had today. It was a game we could’ve won, but it’s a hard-earned point and we will take it.”
Both India and England have four points from two matches. India will now to Bhubaneswar for their third league match against Wales while England will take on Spain, who have three points from two games, in their third match.