Indian defence must have had a sleepless night after lapses in the backline cost the hosts a 2-3 defeat against England in a Pool B match of the Hockey World League (HWL) Final on Saturday.
The defeat pushed India to the bottom of their pool with just one point and a match to play against Germany on Monday. Manpreet Singh & Co drew their first match against Australia 1-1.
If the first match was the story of missed opportunities, the one on Saturday put errors in India’s defence under the scanner. But England did not miss taking advantage of that as Sam Ward ensured with his two goals, especially the one he scored in the 43rd minute.
Harmanpreet Singh failed to trap a ball cleanly with Ward lurking by his side. The Englishman collected the rebound and in an overlapping move pushed it wide off a diving Akash Chikte into the goal.
This was after David Goodfield had put England ahead in the 25th minute, which was again a soft error from Suraj Karkare, who guarded the Indian post in the first two quarters.
Goodfield’s push deflected off Karkare’s pad to give England the lead.
At half-time, England led 2-0.
“Players are not doing it (committing mistakes) on purpose. (Our) Speed wasn’t good enough. We held the ball for too long, also lost it too much. As a team, the level wasn’t good enough like yesterday (against Australia),” said India coach Sjoerd Marijne in the post-match press conference.
India launched a late comeback through Akashdeep Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh, who scored off two penalty corners in the 47th and 50thminute to bring the game on an even keel.
Akashdeep benefitted from a rebound off England ‘keeper Harry Gibson, who saved Rupinder Pal’s flick off a penalty corner. The veteran Indian striker then tapped the ball in to bring India back.
Rupinder then converted another PC three minutes later to draw his team level.
The crowd was up on its feet in the last 10 minutes but hushed by Ward once again, who, in the 57th minute, scored the decisive goal going past two Indian defenders.
India would also rue the two close chances missed by Chinglensana Singh (17th and 34th), but England goalkeeper was right on the money to avert the danger.
Sunday is a rest day for Pool B teams, who will play their respective third and final league fixtures the day after. However, results in the league stage matter only in terms of standings as the format allows all eight participating nations to progress to the quarterfinals.