Germany rally to hold spirited India

Hosts take on Australia in quarterfinals; England get the better of New Zealand 5-1

Germany rally to hold spirited India

A last-minute drop in concentration cost India what could have been their biggest win in the recent times. Leading 3-2 against Olympic champions Germany till the 68th minute, the hosts allowed them to sneak in with a goal and draw their last pool match of the Hero Hockey World League Final at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Monday.

Thilo Stralkowski slammed home the equaliser to stun India as Sardar Singh failed to clear the ball. India will now take on Australia in the quarterfinals. It was, nonetheless, a heart-warming performance by India and won accolades from the fans who stayed back to cheer the home team.

After two losses, it was a transformed unit which took the field on Monday. Their errant performance in the first two matches gave way to a structured play and some delightfully fluent moves. The Indians got their basics right and their counter-attacks were no longer frantic, but marked with purpose.

Sardar Singh marshalled his troops in the midfield like a seasoned general. The backline threw itself for quick clearances and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, too, came with some fine saves. The team, which had disappointed with their jaded performance in the tournament, astonished the World No. 1 side with their focus and synchronized run off the ball. 

Though India could not score in open play, it came through an own goal off VR Raghunath’s free hit from outside the circle before a penalty corner converted by Rupinderpal Singh gave them a 2-1 cushion just before the interval. Germany’s goal in the first period had come through captain Oliver Korn via a penalty corner.

In the second half, it was the turn of the Olympic champions to benefit from an own goal. With scores levelled at 2-2, the hosts who had been fast earning the reputation of buckling under pressure, shocked Germany again by regaining the lead. India won their fourth penalty corner. Raghunath missed the strike for the third time in the match but Dharamvir Singh, standing at the left side of the goalpost, scored off the rebound.

With a small, partisan crowd firmly behind their back, India raised their game.

Germany has not entered the tournament with its full strength and were forced to go on the defensive for the rest of the match.

In the other matches, World No. 2 Australia roared back to winning ways with a 6-1 demolition of Argentina and handed the Pan American champions their first loss in the contest. Argentina’s upset of two top teams—the Netherlands and Belgium—has heightened the interest in the contest. 

England, too, showed their ruthless streak hammering New Zealand 5-1. The side has been unbeaten in the tournament with three wins and finished the league stage as Group A toppers.

In another match, Belgium held the Netherlands 2-2.

DH News Service

Results: England: 5 (Ashley Jackson 30th, 44th, Mark Gleghorne 50th, Tom Carson 67th,  Barry Middleton 70th) bt New Zealand Hugo Inglis 29th)

Australia: 6 (Daniel Beale 3rd, Mark Knowles 14th, Kieran Govers 14th, 35th, Russell Ford 44th,  Jason Wilson 48th)    

Netherlands: 2 (Constantijn Jonker 31st, Jeroen Hertzberger 66th) drew Belgium: 2(Tom Boon 34th, Felix Denayer 66th)

India: 3(Own goal 19th, Rupinder Singh 33rd , Dharamvir Singh 52nd ) Germany: (Oliver Korn 24th, own goal 41st, Thilo Stralkowski 68th )

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