CWG: Despite early lead in men's hockey, India lucky to get way against England
After seeming to run away with the match, Indians ought to be happy with a draw that saved them a lot of blushes in the men’s hockey at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. From 3-0 and then 4-1, they lost two men to ‘cards’ and barely managed to hang in for a 4-4 draw as a resurgent England made India pay for their lapses.
Olympic bronze medallist from Tokyo, India, who did not make the podium four years ago in Gold Coast, may not need to worry about a place in the semi-finals, but will need to be careful if they are to finish on top of the pool to avoid clashing with Australia in the semi-finals.
Australia have won the gold each time hockey has been held at the Commonwealth Games.
India struck early in the third minute through Lalit Upadhyaya, who scored off a rebound from a penalty corner. Then Manpreet Singh struck twice to make it 3-0 before the second quarter was over.
That’s when Indians started ‘losing’ players. It was 10 and then nine and the lead was fast disappearing. In the last quarter India lost Varun Kumar to cards. Then with eight minutes left, another Indian, Gurjant, was sent off and it was now 11 Englishmen against nine Indians.
India opened the account early with Lalit Upadhyay firing in a rebound off a penalty corner. Indians thwarted an English penalty corner attempt with Vivek Sagar Prasad defending well. Then Mandeep Singh (13th and 22nd minutes) made it 3-0. Liam Ansell reduced it in the 42nd to 1-3 before Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner to make it 4-1. Then came the nightmare. Nick Bandurak (47th and 53rd) and Phil Rogers (51st) made it 4-4. England were unable to find that final goal.
Manpreet said, “The performance has been good overall so far. Even today, even after those cards we showed a lot of teamwork and covered each other’s mistakes.”
“We have to work on that (the suspensions). We cannot have so many players spending so many minutes outside the field of play. We will have a discussion about this later today,” said Harmanpreet.
India will need to tighten up the game, even against Wales and Canada for England have just one more game against Canada and it could all boil down to goal difference.