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India-Britain draw before final clash

Press Trust of India

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Indian jr hockey team

Johor Bahru (Malaysia): The Indian junior men’s hockey team and Britain played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in their final round robin match of the 9th Sultan of Johor Cup here on Friday.

In a cagey first quarter, India controlled the pace of the game and were at the forefront of most attacks but unable to breach the Britain defence in the final third.

They won the first penalty corner of the game in the 11th minute. From the injection the ball fell to Dinachandra Singh whose shot on goal was parried by Oliver Payne. The two teams went into the break locked at 0-0.

India picked up pace in the second quarter and slowly started asserting themselves more in the midfield. The first clear opportunity fell to Gursahibjit Singh, released by a superb pass from Sudeep Chirmako. Gursahibjit’s shot though was dragged wide.

Soon after, Payne was called into action once again, this time when Sanjay went through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who did enough to thwart the attempt.

India slowly turned the screw and chances fell in bursts with Sanjay dragging another PC wide before Britain finally got their first chance of the game. It came off a PC in the 27th minute, Ioan Wall’s dragflick giving them the first goal of the game.

India hit back almost immediately and if was not for Payne’s brilliance they would have had the equaliser via Shilanand Lakra. His reflex save though meant that India went into half-time trailing 1-0.

Britain were quicker off the blocks in the third quarter, and doubled their advantage in the 23nd minute via an Andrew McConnell goal.

Almost from the restart India won a PC. Mandeep Mor’s subsequent dragflick was saved by Payne and from the rebound Dilpreet’s reverse was cleared off the line by their defence. Despite India’s multiple circle penetrations and constant attack a goal eluded them. The teams went into the final break with Britain leading 2-0.

With their backs against the wall, urgency came into India’s play and right from the push back they wrested control of the game. Three minutes in, Mor grabbed possession on the right and directed a superb pass to find Shilanand Lakra inside the circle. Lakra’s superb touch and finish brought the margin down to one.

With momentum on their side, India pushed for the equaliser and soon they had one. Off a succession of PCs, each of which put Britain under more pressure, Mandeep Mor finally breached the rushers to score the equaliser in the 51st minute.

Britain knew they needed just a draw to qualify for the final but India were in no mood to drop the intensity.

In the 57th minute India were awarded a stroke, after Dilpreet was brought down illegally in the circle. Sharda Nand Tiwari made no mistake from the spot to give India the lead. With India now happy to defend, it was Britain’s turn to look for the equaliser, and with virtually the last action of the game. From a PC won in the 59th minute, Matthew Renshaw scored ensuring a rematch in the final.

The final will be played on Saturday.

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