The Indian men’s hockey team launched their Pro Hockey League campaign with an emphatic win 5-2 win over 3rd ranked Netherlands played at Kalinga Stadium, Bhuvneshwar on Saturday.
It was an ideal start for the Indian team as Gurjant Singh produced a brilliant field goal to give a 1-0 lead in the very first minute. India and Netherlands played fast-paced hockey from one corner to another and spending equal time in other team’s half. In the 12th minute, India earned their first penalty corner via successful review. Rupinder Pal Singh hit the penalty corner into a goal to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. In the 14th minute, Netherlands earned their first penalty corner and Janssen Jip scored the goal to reduce the gap to 1-2. At the end of the first quarter, India led 2-1.
The Netherlands got off to a perfect start in the 2nd quarter as they earned a penalty corner in the 19th minute. The visitors earned three successive penalty corners because of the defender’s faults. Only the third shot crossed the defender but was well saved by P Sreejesh. In the 25th minute, the umpire gave a penalty corner to the Netherlands, but India decided to review the decision. On review, umpire changed its decision to free out. Jeroen Hertzberger scored a brilliant field goal in the 28th minute with a brilliant deflection inside the circle to level the score at 2-2. At the end of the first half, the scores were level at 2-2, as India looked faded.
The Indian team came back in the right spirit in the third quarter as they started off to a flying start. Mandeep Singh scored a brilliant shot inside the circle in the 34th minute to give the hosts 3-2 lead. The Indian team continued to put pressure on the Netherlands defense with attacking play and earning penalty corners via review. Despite multiple penalty corners, the Indian drag flickers failed to convert into a goal successively. In the 36th minute, a combination of Harmanpreet Singh pass and deflection by Lalit Upadhyay to give India a 4-2 lead. Another successful review gave India another penalty corner but was wasted. At the end of the 3rd quarter, India was sitting pretty and led 4-2.
In the fourth quarter, India earned another penalty corner via review for a back-stick fault. Rupinder Pal Singh converted this penalty corner into a goal in the 46th minute to give the hosts 5-2 lead. In the 51st minute, India earned another penalty corner but was well saved by the Netherlands defense. 2 minutes later, the hosts were awarded another short corner via video referral, but the shot went wide. In the 58th minute, Netherlands got a chance through a penalty corner but was well saved the experienced Sreejesh. Finally, India won the match by a crushing 5-2.
The 2nd match of this leg will be played tomorrow at 5 PM.