Indians shock Britain

Raghunath, Talwinder score; hosts in semis

Indians shock Britain

It took them close to 200 minutes to lead a game at the Hockey World League Final, but once ahead India ensured that they defended their lead with grit to beat Great Britain in the quarterfinal clash here on Thursday.

The Sardar Singh-led side went ahead through a VR Raghunath drag-flick in the 19th minute and later doubled their advantage through Talwinder Singh in the 39th minute.
Though Simon Mantell pulled one back for Britain in the 52nd minute, it was not enough as the Indians saw off a tenacious British attack in the final quarter to book their place in the semifinal of the tournament.

The Indians will take on the winner from the last quarterfinal between Argentina and Belgium on Saturday. The semis, meanwhile, will begin on Friday with world champions Australia locking horns with defending champions Netherlands.

The Indian forward line, who had taken most of the flak for the inconsistent run in Raipur so far, were determined to put up a much improved show as they answered the critics in style with some superb hockey.

New to the Indian set-up, Amir Khan was the first to initiate an attack on the British goal. Stealing the ball from Alastair Brogdon, the 21-year-old forward made inroads into the opposition half and whipped in a juicy cross from the right.

But his strike partner Talwinder Singh failed to get his stick to the cross as the long standing problem with the Indian forward seemed to come to fore.

However, that was the only time someone would have criticsed the Indian forwards in the game as they continued to find ways to terrorise the British defence. And it didn’t take them long to have their noses ahead in the tie.

Starting the second quarter with purpose, Amir was once again instrumental for India in the attacking third as one of his strikes found a British foot to hand India their first short corner of the game. Gifted an opening, drag-flicker Raghunath made sure that he made the most of the opportunity, drilling in the ball past goalkeeper Harry Gibson to give India the much deserved lead from his first strike of the tournament.

Stepping out with much determination in the second half, the Indians continued to impose themselves on the tie with their possession game.

While a Ramandeep Singh attempt kissed the crossbar and Amir found the side netting with his shot, the cheers at the stadium reached its crescendo when Talwinder guaranteed India’s berth in the last four with only his second goal in the national colours. Kothajit Khadangbam was the architect behind the goal as his delightful scoop beat an advancing Dan Fox and found Talwinder who rounded off the British shot stopper to slot in his sides’ second goal.

Though Britain scored a goal in the fourth quarter and later replaced their keeper with an outfield player to pressurise the Indians, the hosts made sure that they didn’t let anything slip from their grasp and continued their march in the tournament.

DH News Service
Quarterfinals result: India: 2 (VR Raghunath 19th, Talwinder Singh 39th) bt Great Britain: 1 (Simon Mantell 52nd).

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