The Indian men’s hockey team beat England in a dramatic shoot-out after both the sides were locked 3-3 in the regulation time in the opening match of the double-leg FIH Pro League tie at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday. In the shoot-out, the hosts won 3-2 to pocket two points (including a bonus) as against England’s one.
Abhishek (14th minute), Shamsher Singh (27th) and Harmanpreet Singh (52nd) were the goal scorers for India in the regulation time, while England sounded the board through Nicholas Bandurak (8th, 28th) and Sam Ward (60th), who scored from a penalty stroke.
Both the teams will lock horns against each other again in the second match of the tie on Sunday. England started the match on a positive note by taking the lead in the eighth minute from a penalty corner conversion by Bandurak.
Even though they were not up to their best, India drew level six minutes later through Abhishek, who scored with a fierce reverse hit after receiving a pass from Shamsher. India took the lead in the 27th minute through Shamsher’s field strike.
But India’s joy was short lived as England drew level a minute later, once again through a penalty corner conversion by Bandurak. It was a scrappy first half from both the teams, more so from the Indians as they failed to secure a single penalty corner as against England’s three.
England continued to play positively after the change of ends and secured a penalty corner soon but veteran India custodian PR Sreejesh made a fine save to keep the scores level. The Indians were lacklustre throughout the game with their passes, more so in the third quarter.
India’s below-par showing can be gauged from the fact that they failed to win a single penalty corner in the first three quarters. The Indians, however, stepped up in the final quarter and got back-to-back penalty corners just eight minutes from the final whistle, the second of which was converted by Harmanpreet with a stunning drag-flick to take a 3-2 lead.
But there was more drama in store as the fragile Indian defence conceded a penalty stroke just 14 seconds from the final hooter and Ward was bang on target to level the scores once again and take the match into shoot-out. It was a marathon shoot-out as both the teams faltered, but eventually the Indians held their nerves to come out on top and pocket two points from the game.
By virtue of the win, India climbed to the top of the Pro League standings with 18 points from nine games.