India wins second Hockey Test against England, level series

India wins second Hockey Test against England, level series

The Indians produced a fine display of speed and skill to erase a two-goal deficit and notched up their first win of the European tour at the University of Birmingham.

Arjun Halappa (35th minute), Dhananjay Mahadik (41st), Rajpal Singh (43rd) and Gurvinder Chandi (65th min) scored for India, while England’s marksmen were Ashley Jackson (22nd and 69th) and Jonty Clarke (26th min).

England, who won the first Test 3-1 on Wednesday, started aggressively but met with stiff resistance from the Indian defenders, particularly from Sardar Singh in a his new role of sweeper back.

Vikram Pillay and Gurbaj Singh joined the Haryana Police deputy superintendent in thwarting the initial England forays amidst a light drizzle accompanied by a wave of chilly wind.

The hosts nearly took the lead as early as the sixth minute when Simon Egerton broke through the middle but was foiled by Indian goalkeeper Adrian D’souza who saved a shot high to his right.

In the eighth minute, India had their first opportunity to score but Tushar Khandker failed to control SV Sunil’s powerful cross to the back post.

England, who earned six penalty corners in the first half, had to wait for the last one to net the opener. Ashley Jackson got it spot on in the 22nd minute as his powerful flick finally beat Adrian D’souza.

The home team could have doubled up the a minute later but Simon Egerton, teed up by James Tindall, pushed wide.

India went into full throttle but soon fell into further arrears as England built up on a turnover in the 26th minute.

Matt Daly’s shot was well saved by D’souza low to his left but before Bimal Lakra could react Jonty Clark did brilliantly to knock home the loose ball.

India got their opening goal at the stroke of half-time from their first penalty corner after Chandi was blocked inside the circle.

However, Dhananjay Mahadik’s flick was taken by custodian James Fair dangerously resulting in another penalty corner. Arjun Halappa fired a low flick into the bottom right corner to give a 2-1 score at half time.

India returned for the second half with renewed vigour and they turned the game on its head with two goals in quick succession.

Sardar Singh was outstanding with his crisp passes to Birendra Lakra, Rajpal, Chandi and Pillay as the quartet gave the English defence no respite.

Chandi moved into the circle with a solo and an obstruction lead to India’s third penalty corner in the 41st minute, from which Mahadik scored the equaliser to the delight of the huge India supporters at the stands.

Two minutes later, it was the turn of Indian captain Rajpal Singh to celebrate as he gave India the lead. Standing in for the indisposed Sandeep Singh, Rajpal knocked home at the back post after a free flowing move down the left flank from Prabodh Tirkey, Halappa and Chandi.

England responded immediately with two penalty corners but Jackson’s efforts were thwarted by D’souza.

As England pressed on in search of the equaliser, India were beginning to show some of their traditional flair, attacking on the counter at pace and superb close control.

India had a chance to kill off the game as it entered the final 10 minutes but Rajpal mis-trapped along the baseline.

India was flowing with confidence as Gurvinder Chandi entered the striking circle from the left to strike the bouncing ball with a reverse stick volley to give the visitors a 4-2 lead in the 65th minute.

England continued to push and reduced the margin when Jackson netted his second corner one minute before the final hooter. India, however, played out the remaining time as ecstatic fans celebrated.

Indian chief coach Jose Brasa refused to get carried away with the comeback win and put the result down to renewed confidence in his team.

The third and final match of the series takes place here tomorrow.

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