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Hockey World League Final: India hold Australia in tournament opener

Mandeep Singh and Jeremy Hayward scored as India held Australia 1-1 in the FIH Men’s Hockey World League Final Pool B match at Kalinga Stadium

other sports Updated: Dec 02, 2017 14:04 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Hockey World League Final,HWL,Indian hockey team
Australian defenders chase Mandeep Singh of Indian hockey team, who scored in their Pool B opening matchof the FIH Men’s Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar on Friday. (PTI)

Hosts India celebrated the 200th international appearance of skipper Manpreet Singh in style, holding World No. 2 and world champions Australia 1-1 in their opening game of the Men’s Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar.

India, Hockey World League bronze medallists in 2015, were outstanding in all departments to eke out a memorable draw. It was just the second time India have split points with Australia, the defending champions, in as many as 14 meetings, with the team from Down Under winning 11 of it.

Mandeep Singh and Jeremy Hayward scored a goal each in the 60-minute duel at the Kalinga Stadium, which was almost full capacity even before the start of the first match of the day -- where Germany beat England 2-0.

On Saturday, Germany play Australia in their second Pool B match, while England will be up against India.

Quick start by India

Giving no chance to the rivals to settle down, India upped the tempo from the first minute of play. However, a series of missed chances meant the period of strong play didn’t reflect on the scoreboard.

Gurjant Singh missed an open net chance in the very first minute, hitting Aussie goalkeeper Tyler Lovell with a reverse shot. He missed another chance in the following minute, finding Lovell again standing like a rock under the bar.

In the sixth minute, Rupinder Pal Singh’s straight hit from the team’s first penalty corner went straight to Lovell. Australia too missed their first penalty corner in the 12th minute, thanks to a diving save by Indian ’keeper Akash Chikte.

Despite missing chances, Manpreet and Co. kept dominating the proceedings, putting the mighty Australians on the back foot with a foray of attacks. .

Things didn’t change much in the second quarter, and before the Kookaburras could show some resistance, Mandeep Singh sent the crowd wild striking team’s first goal in the 20th minute.

Manpreet masterminded the goal, pushing the ball for Lalit Upadhyay, who passed it back to Manpreet, who finished with a reverse hit.

But the joy was short lived as in the very next minute Aussies restored parity through Jeremy Hayward, who converted the team’s second penalty corner.

The equalizer slowed down India’s pace but their defenders -- Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and captain Manpreet -- kept the Kookaburras at bay with solid clearance of attacks an umpteen number of times. The two teams tried their best to make a change in the score-line, attacking frequently, but to no avail.

First Published: Dec 01, 2017 21:48 IST