Men’s hockey: India work hard for 4-3 win over Wales

Gold Coast, April 8 : S.V. Sunil’s late goal helped India’s men’s hockey team overcome a lower-ranked Wales with a 4-3 win in a Pool B match of the 21st Commonwealth Games (CWG) here on Sunday.

Wales’ drag-flicker Gareth Furlong’s hat-trick had threatened India and the latter was on the verge of playing second consecutive draw after the Pakistan tie. But Sunil scored off a rebound from a penalty corner with around two minutes to go.

Furlong’s all goals were equalisers for their teams. His first goal came a minute after Dilpreet Singh’s field goal, a drive from the right in the 16th minute, gave India the lead.

India regained the lead through Mandeep Singh’s tap-in off a penalty corner rebound in the 27th minute. Wales took 17 minutes to come up with the equaliser via Furlong, who exposes India’s shortcomings in defending the set-piece.

Harmanpreet Singh scored in his fourth penalty corner attempt in the 56th minute to give India the 3-2 lead with four minutes left for the end of the game. But Furlong struck again past P.R. Sreejesh to make it 3-3 in the following minute. India once again lost composure and focus after scoring a goal which allowed Wales to launch a speedy counter-attack to earn a penalty corner which was poorly defended by Sreejesh and his defence.

However, a minute later Wales, failed to fully clear Harmanpreet’s drag-flick. Sunil’s first attmept was blocked but he got hold of the ball again before hitting at the empty right post to make it 4-3.

“I am happy with the win but not with our performance because we can do so much better than this. Though we were a better team today compared to our first match against Pakistan, we need to play our A game against Malaysia if we want to see ourselves in the Semi Final,” said Indian chief coach Sjoerd Marijne in a release.

Following the win, India jumped to the second spot in the Pool B with four points — same as top-placed England but behind on goal difference. England played a 2-2 draw against a gutsy Pakistan in the other Pool B match of the day, with the Asian outfit earning third consecutive draw to be third in the table.

India take on Malaysia in their next match, a team that heavily relies on penalty corners and on a good day can cause an upset win. After a poor conversion rate in penalty corners against Wales, Marijne would want his team to improve on this aspect.

“We cannot miss any opportunity to score and today there were plenty of those opportunities. But I am hopeful the win today will give us a good moment for the next game,” he said.

/IANS

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