Buenos Aires, April 12
The Indian hockey team, putting up another superb performance, crushed Argentina 3-0 in their second match of the FIH Pro League to come away with five points from two games against the Olympic champions.
Still need to improve: Pathak
“I think we defended well,” said goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, who was named the Player of the Match. “They are good in defence but we created a lot of chances. We scored the goals, so that is good for us. We have to work on a lot of things, in defence, in midfield also. We have to learn from this match. Today we did a lot of good things, but we still have to work (to do).”
With this, India rose from fifth to fourth spot in the Pro League points table. India have 15 points from eight games and are one point ahead of Australia, who too have played eight matches.
Harmanpreet Singh, who scored twice in regulation time in the drawn first match, gave India the lead in the 11th minute, and goals from Lalit Upadhyay (25th minute) and Mandeep Singh (58th) ensured India earned three points from the match.
Argentina started brightly and would have surged ahead had it not been for some excellent saves from India goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak. Pathak, who was playing his 50th international match, made three brilliant saves in the first quarter to thwart the hosts. Argentina forwards Macio Casella and Martin Ferrerio attacked from close range but were adroitly pushed away by Pathak.
Harmanpreet then converted India’s first penalty-corner of the game in the 11th minute.
Upadhyay doubled the lead when he showed lightning-quick reactions in the second quarter, pouncing on a save from Argentina custodian Juan Vivaldi to slot the ball into the goal. The strike gave the visitors a deserved reward after a lengthy period of probing possession.
In the third quarter, India’s high-intensity pressing continued to force Argentina into making mistakes. India dominated possession and swarmed all the over the Argentinean defence by regularly finding space. India bagged their third goal two minutes before full time after Shamsher Singh found Mandeep, who tucked the ball into the net despite losing his balance.
“We were a lit bit asleep in the first quarter. We woke up in the second quarter. Controlling possession made the difference,” India chief coach Graham Reid said.
India’s next Pro League engagements are against Great Britain on May 8 and 9.
It may be recalled that India, Argentina and Australia will play against each other at the forthcoming Olympic Games, where they have been drawn in Pool A alongside Spain, New Zealand and Japan. — TNS, agencies