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India fail English test

A plethora of missed chances and the usual defensive errors ended India's theoretical chances of making it to the World Cup semifinal. B Shrikant reports. Full coverage

india Updated: Mar 07, 2010 11:19 IST
B Shrikant

A plethora of missed chances and the usual defensive errors ended India's theoretical chances of making it to the World Cup semifinal.

The chances were bleak even before the start of the match after Australia defeated Spain 2-0 early in the day.

A combination of defensive errors and some superb play by England scuttled India's chances. The team showed grit to fight back from a 0-3 deficit to score two goals in the second half and exerted tremendous pressure in the last few minutes of the match. Rajpal Singh missed a great chance to tap in the ball with seconds left on the clock to force a draw.

India lost 2-3, the same score by which they lost to England in two previous World Cup encounters, in 2002 and 2006. England, with 12 points, sealed a semifinals berth, for the first time in 24 years. They finished runners-up to Australia in 1986. India will now hope to beat South Africa and play for the 8th-9th position.

England took the lead in the 16th minute when James Tindall tapped in a superb cross by Nick Catlin. It looked like they had sealed their victory when they scored twice in the second session via Ashley Jackson. Catlin scored within five minutes to give their team a commanding 3-0 lead.

India fought back superbly and reduced the margin when Gurwinder Singh Chandi deflected in a shot by Gurbaj Singh, the star for India. Chandi's goal, in the 54th minute and another fine goal by Rajpal Singh three minutes later raised hopes of a draw but fumbled chances sealed their fate. Luck too went against them as German umpire Christian Blasch denied them couple of PCs and also sent out two Indian players in the last few minutes.

The first half, however, belonged to England as they took a solitary goal lead into the break. Though the Indians managed to control the pace in the first session there were still too many fumbles and mistakes in man-marking for their own good.

India failed to convert two penalty corners while Ashley Jackson flicked home England's lone short corner.