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India play a 4-4 draw with England in men’s hockey


India squandered a three-goal advantage and were held to a 4-4 draw by hosts England in their second Commonwealth Games men’s hockey Pool B match on Monday.

The Indians started brightly and dominated the first two quarters to take a comfortable 3-0 halftime lead.

But the English came out hard in the last two quarters to stun the Indians. England were also helped by three bookings against India’s Varun Kumar twice, once for five minutes in the first half and then again for 10 minutes in the second half, in addition to a 10-minute suspension for Gurjant Singh in the final quarter for dangerous play.

The Indians scored through Lalit Upadhayay (3rd minute), Mandeep Singh (13th and 22nd) and Harmanpreet Singh (46th) from a penalty corner. England produced a gallant response in the second half and scored through Liam Ansell (42nd), Nick Bandurak (47th, 53rd) and Phil Roper (53rd).

India and England have faced each other four times in CWG history, winning two matches each. When they last met, England came out on top in the bronze medal match at Gold Coast 2018, winning 2-1. Desperate to avenge this defeat, the Indians came out attacking and dominated England in all aspects of the game.

While India were on the offensive, England were content to defend deep. India were quick to take the lead when Lalit rushed to score on a rebound from Harmanpreet Singh’s penalty corner kick.

England quickly won a penalty corner but squandered the chance. With less than three minutes remaining in the first quarter, India mounted a counterattack and Nilakanta Sharma set it up beautifully for Mandeep, who used his experience to drive the ball home with a brilliant backhand to give India a 2-0 lead.

The Indians continued to dominate proceedings in the second quarter and mounted attack after attack on the English citadel. Mandeep extended India’s lead in the 22nd minute when he spun brilliantly to shoot on goal, and the ball went in after being deflected off an England defender.

The Indians continued in the same vein in the early stages of the third quarter, but England made their presence felt as time went on. England had the best share of possession in the third quarter as India went into defensive mode.

In the 42nd minute, England were awarded a penalty corner, but first rusher Amit Rohidas came to India’s rescue with a fearless run to prevent Sam Ward. A minute later, Liam Ansell scored on a field effort to close the margin.

Four minutes later India were awarded a penalty corner and this time Harmanpreet struck hard with a fierce low kick to the bottom right corner of England’s goal. But Varun’s suspension hit India hard as England took full advantage of a one-man advantage to press hard on the Indian defense and pulled another back in the 47th minute when Bandurak carefully deflected the pass from skipper Jack Waller.

Within a minute, England goalkeeper Oliver Payne made a fine save on the goal line to prevent Hardik Singh. England kept their pressure on and got another penalty corner, but the Indians defended in numbers.

In the 50th minute, Roper made it 4-3 with a brilliant field goal after dancing down the left flank. With nine minutes remaining, Gurjant earned a 10-minute ban for a dangerous tackle and it cost India dearly as Bandurak deflected a pass from a counterattack to level the scores and stun the Indians.

England kept the pressure on and earned another penalty corner just two minutes from time, but India managed to keep that away to settle for a draw. India will next face Canada on Wednesday.

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