‘Chak De India’ songs were playing in the background by the time the Indian team made it onto the turf for their pre-match warm-up for their second match of the Hockey Junior World Cup. The Indians were a bit late as, by that time, England had finished their strenuous physical drill at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here on Saturday. The hosts, however, were never late on the ball during the match and registered a 5-3 win against the James Gall-led English side to virtually book a place in the quarterfinals from Group C.
England began the match on the front foot though. Much to the shock of the fans, England took the lead through Jack Clee, who lobbed the ball into the post from the right flank in the ninth minute (1-0).
However, India restored parity in the 23rd minute when England custodian Toby Reynolds-Cotterill failed to stop a Parvinder Singh hit. Indian skipper and designated drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh finally came into his own after missing three penalty corners, striking at the stroke of half time to give India a 2-1 lead going into the break.
England, who had finished fourth twice (1997 and 2001) in the Junior World Cup, kept struggling to retain possession of the ball at the start of second half. The Indian defenders were in good form, especially in the danger area, were they were quick to close down and tackle the English players.
Harmanpreet converted the team’s fourth penalty corner in the 37th minute for a 3-1 lead.
The goal forced the English think-tank to make changes, and their coach initiated a few rolling substitutions, which failed to make any impact as the Indians were on a roll.
Before they could come out with other tactical changes, India scored their fourth goal in the 47th minute when Simranjeet Singh scored off a missed-pass from Gurjant Singh (4-1).
India increased their advantage again in the 59th minute when Varun Kumar gave no chance to the England ‘keeper from a penalty corner (5-1).
Barring a few moves in the 70-minute duel, England never looked in contention. They earned three penalty corners, one in each half, but failed to capitalise. Late goals from the stick of Edward Horler, in the 64th and 67th minute, proved a consolation for the side.
Earlier, the day’s biggest shock came for debutants Austria, who stunned South Korea 5-1 in a Pool A encounter . Marcel Hilbert (8th), Pit Rudofsky (21st, 62nd), Oliver Binder (39th) and Franz Lindengrun (60th) scored for Austria, who had shared the points with Argentina in a 1-1 draw on Friday. Joohan Park struck both the goals for Korea.
In another Pool A match, Australia outplayed Argentina 2-1, while South Africa beat Canada 3-1 in a Group D encounter.