Listless India no match for rusty England

Sardar Singh's men suffer 0-2 loss; Argentina stun The Netherlands

Listless India no match for rusty England

 India’s campaign in the Hero Hockey World League Final began on a disappointing note with the hosts going down 0-2 to England at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Friday.

Man of the match Adam Dixon scored (28th, 45th) twice for England with India left to rue the missed opportunities.

Both India and England dished out an ordinary fare. The passing was scratchy and finishing of the moves, too, left a lot to be desired. 

India found it difficult to cut through the maze of the England defence but did well to get two back-to-back penalty corners.  Rupinderpal Singh, however, missed the target on both occasions.

With half-time looming, England stepped up the pace of their attacks. The Word No 4 side were left to curse their luck when a strike by Simon Mantell to the right of the goal hit the bar. Their two penalty corners, too, didn’t bear fruit thanks to some good defending by the Indians. England, however, proved to be third time lucky. Dixon scored through a variation and England entered the break with a 1-0 lead.

India pressed with urgency in the second half but were not incisive enough. England, on the other hand, resorted to penalty corners and earned their fourth one minutes into the second period. Dixon struck again in a goalmouth scramble.

India, trailing 0-2, got another chance to open their account with their third penalty corner. But Birendra Lakra could not stop the ball and the chance was muffed up without any strike being taken.

India got their fourth opportunity in the 59th minute following a sprint by Affan Yousuf. Rupinder converted it to spark wild celebrations but England sought the referral claiming a foul. After an anxious wait, England won the referral and India remained goalless till the last.

The hosts now play New Zealand on Saturday.

There was a big upset on the opening day with 11th-ranked Argentina beating London Olympics silver medallist, the Netherlands 5-2 in Pool B. Argentina were given an early lead by Gonzalo Peillat (2nd minute) through a penalty corner. The Netherlands hit back within three minutes with penalty corner specialist Mink van der Weerden (5th) scoring, but a diving conversion by Facundo Callioni (8th) again put the Argentines in the lead.

Seve van Ass (50th), son of national coach Paul van Ass, levelled for the Netherlands in the second half with a reverse strike from left of the goal. At 2-2, one would have expected the Oranje to pick up the momentum but Argentina had other plans. Pedro Ibarra (56th) put the side 3-2 up before Guido Barreiros (60th) stretched the lead.

The Argentines further increased the gap when Juan Ignacio Gilardi (67th) converted a penalty stroke. “We are here to win against the best and today’s start was what we had planned,” Argentina coach Carlos Retegui said.

The Netherlands Coach Paul van Ass said: “We did not display our level of hockey. Argentina played exceptionally well.”

In other matches, Australia beat Belgium 3-2, while Germany thrashed New Zealand 6-1.DH News Service

Results: Australia: 3 (Kieran Govers 33rd, 48th; Jacob Whetton 69th) bt Belgium: 2 (Tom Boon 33rd, Thomas Briels 53rd); Argentina: 5 (Gonzalo Peillat 2nd, Facundo Callioni 8th, Pedro Ibarra 56th, Guido Barreiros 60th, Juan Ignacio Gilardi 67th) bt The Netherlands: 2 (Mink van der Weerden 5th, Seve van Ass 50th); Germany:  6 (Christopher Wesley 1st,  Thilo Stralkowski 11th, 44th,  Florian Fuchs 31st, Tobias Hauke 45th, Jan Philipp Rabente 48th) bt New Zealand: 1 (Kane Russell 5th).England: 2 (Adam Dixon 28th, 45th) bt India: 0.

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