New Delhi, February 28
Playing their first international match in over 12 months, the Indian men’s hockey team led by PR Sreejesh put up a scintillating show to outclass hosts Germany 6-1 in the first game of their four-match Europe Tour on Sunday.
India’s goalscorers were Nilakanta Sharma (13th minute), Vivek Sagar Prasad (27’, 28’), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (41’), Akashdeep Singh (42’) and Harmanpreet Singh (47’).
Hungry to perform, the Indians played with an intent to win. They went on an attacking mode right from the start, putting pressure on the German line-up. After creating potential opportunities in the striking circle, India earned a penalty corner in the 13th minute of the first quarter, which saw midfielder Nilakanta Sharma breaking the deadlock for the visitors.
However, in the next minute, German forward Constantin Staib scored to make it 1-1, which was the scoreline at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started with the hosts putting pressure on India and earning themselves two back-to-back PCs in the initial minutes. The Indians made brilliant saves and created quick counterattacks, which led to midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad scoring two back-to-back goals in the 27th and 28th minutes, taking India’s lead to 3-1 at half-time.
In the third quarter, the hosts started off on the front foot again and earned as many as six PCs. However, the Indian defence led by skipper Sreejesh held strong to thwart each of the German attempts.
Soon after a solid display in defence, Indian forwards Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Akashdeep Singh scored brilliant goals in the 41st and 42nd minutes, respectively, to put the world No. 4 Indians in the driver’s seat, leading 5-1 at the end of the third quarter.
Another glorious opportunity came for the Indians in the 47th minute in the form of a PC, which saw a direct flick from Harmanpreet Singh giving India a 6-1 lead.
Playing under pressure, the hosts did try hard to make a comeback, and they even pulled out their goalkeeper to put an extra attacker on the field, but a great overall performance from the Indians ensured them a 6-1 victory.
The teams will next play on Tuesday at 8:30pm IST.
Women lose again
Dusseldorf: The Indian women’s hockey team lost 1-0 to Germany in their second tour game, putting a much-improved show after their 5-0 thrashing in the opening match.
Amelie Wortmann (24th minute) scored the only goal of the game as the Germans held on to their slender advantage to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. The Indian side responded quickly, earning a penalty corner just three minutes after going behind, but were unable to breach the German backline.
Though India failed to get an equaliser, they also kept Germany from increasing their lead, saving two more penalty corners. The teams will play their third match on Tuesday. — TNS