Goalkeeper Krishna Pathak’s stunning heroics in the shootout helped India pull off a stellar 4-2 shootout win against Great Britain to bag the bonus point after the two teams drew 4-4 in regulation time in the FIH Hockey Pro League at the Lee Valley Stadium in London on Saturday.
India led 3-1 till the 40th minute but could not hold on as Sam Wallace led the Great Britain’s superb come back scoring all the four goals for his side and the regulation period ended in a deadlock at 4-4 leading to the shootout .
Krishan Pathak was outstanding in his efforts to make two crucial saves in the shootout while Manpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Abhishek scored.
In the regulation time, Harmanpreet Singh (7′), Mandeep Singh (19′), Sukhjeet Singh (28′) and Abhishek (50′) scored for India while Sam Ward (8′, 40′, 47′, 53′) scored four goals to halt India from registering an outright win.
Ward’s effort not only ensured GB stays on top of the pool table but they also remain unbeaten in regulation time this season.
It was yet another thrilling contest between the teams as they produced an action-packed start to the game, pushing each other from start to end..
In the opening quarter the hosts kept Krishan Pathak busy by earning 3 Penalty Corners and a few field goal attempts within the first six minutes of the match. But Pathak was impressive in his attempts to deny GB an early lead.
India took time to regroup and found an opportunity to score in the 7th minute through a PC. All-time top scorer in FIH Pro League Harmanpreet Singh was again on target with his drag flick to give his side the lead. However seconds later, GB scored in a similar fashion with experienced Sam Ward scoring from a PC (1-1).
Starting the second quarter in a 1-1 stalemate, India switched gears in their attack scoring two crucial goals that put them in command. It was Hardik Singh who set up India’s second goal in the 19th minute with a superb pass, piercing through the GB defence, to Mandeep Singh who fired it past Toby Reynolds-Cotterill.
This was Mandeep’s 99th international goal and he dedicated it to the victims of the Odisha train accident – pointing to his black armband that the team sported to show their solidarity towards the tragedy.
India’s third goal came in the 28th minute. Once again it was Hardik who was India’s cynosure in the middle, assisting Sukhjeet Singh with a good pass. Picking up the assist well, Sukhjeet cleverly moved away to be unmarked and fired the ball away to the far corner.
In control of the game with 3-1 lead at half-time, India made GB work tirelessly to find space in their circle. Through GB mustered a PC with six minutes into the quarter, Nicholas Bandurak’s attempt was comfortably blocked by Jarmanpreet Singh on the goal line. GB got lucky in the 40th minute when they won the second PC of the third quarter.
Sam Ward taking the flick this time aimed at the bottom corner and unfortunately for India the ball bounced off into the post from Pathak’s stick. With the lead narrowing down to 3-2, India was under pressure to stay in lead, and it didn’t help that they gave away PCs cheaply. Though GB won a few more PCs this quarter, they were unable to convert any.
The visitors began the final quarter strongly, winning a PC, but Harmanpreet’s flick was blocked away by Rupert Shipperley. Backed by a strong home audience, GB equalized in the 47th minute when Thomas Sorsby set up the field goal by Sam Ward. It was a tense ten minutes to the hooter from here on with both India and GB scoring a goal each.
While Dilpreet and Vivek Sagar worked in tandem to assist Abhishek to score in the 50th minute, Sam Ward scored his fourth goal within the 53rd minute taking the game down to the wire. In a 4-4 deadlock, both teams traded PCs in the dying moments but neither found success – thus taking the match into a shootout.
India’s campaign now moves to Eindhoven, where they will take on hosts Netherlands and Argentina.