India lose new year hockey opener to England
India started the new year on a losing note as they went down to England 0-2 in their opening Pool A clash of the Hockey World League Final at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Friday.
In the other Pool A match, reigning Olympic champions Germany thumped New Zealand 6-1 to go top of the table.
India took off in attacking fashion with Yousuf Affan's seventh minute reverse flick from within the striking circle, going just wide of the goalpost.
Both England and India maintained good pace at the start. At one point, Ashley Jackson almost ran the full length of the field to take a reverse shot at the Indian goal. But the Englishman did not get any support in the D and attempted himself, hitting the ball just wide.
India were rewarded with their first penalty corner in the 14th minute which was wasted as V.R. Raghunath hit the ball wide. The hosts earned another penalty corner in the next minute but Rupinder Singh's strike was brilliantly stopped by England keeper George Pinner.
Simon Mantell almost put the visitors ahead when his push from the Indian D struck the post as luck favoured India this instance.
England earned their first penalty corner in the 22nd minute but Adam Dixon failed to convert it. Three minutes later India goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh stopped England from taking the lead on a Mark Gleghorne penalty corner.
A Kothajit Khadangbaam foul earned England their third penalty corner and this time Dixon did not disappoint and put England ahead in the 28th minute -- the scoreline was maintained till the break.
The pace was much slower at the start of the second half but 10 minutes into the second period, Dixon put England 2-0 ahead through their fourth penalty corner.
Two minutes later, India earned a chance to reduce the score but Birendra Lakra failed to stop a push by skipper Sardar Singh on their third penalty corner.
India thought they reduced the scoreline in the 60th minute when Rupinder put the ball inside the goal but a video referral by the visitors showed that the ball, after being pushed for the penalty corner, was stopped by Lakra inside the striking circle.
According to the rule, the ball has to be stopped either on the line or beyond it -- hence the goal was disqualified.
The last 10 minutes went goalless as India tried to score but failed to do so against the World No.4 team.
Pool A results: Germany beat New Zealand 6-1, England beat India 2-0.
(Posted on 10-01-2014)