India light up the Hockey World Cup, beat Spain to open campaign | Hockey News – Times of India

ROURKELA: Local man Amit Rohidas‘s penalty-corner strike made the cuisine delectable for 20,000 plus fans at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium (BMHS) on Friday. Odisha came out in full force to pack the new stadium and made its historic date with international hockey a memorable one. India won 2-0.
India dominated the game, but it will be only fair to add that the scoreline could have been a lot more dominating had India’s circle penetrations and relentless pressure turned into goals, some of which were agonizingly close.
But it’s a win nevertheless; and in high-pressure tournaments, it’s the best way to get the monkey off your back. The scoreline is second in priority.
The win puts India No. 2 in Pool D on goal difference, after England beat traditional rivals Wales 5-0 earlier in the day to lead the pool.

The alarms and reminders in Bhubaneswar, though, were set for 7 pm. The roads leading up to the BMHS wore a refreshing look. India is no longer used to seeing vendors selling Indian flags outside hockey stadiums or animated fans with tri-colour body paints reminiscent of scenes from cricket.
The Rourkela-ites ensured all that. And the Indian team responded with a win. The fans ultimately took smiles back home.
The game started after a slight delay following England’s win over Wales. The stadium flood lights were switched off for a few seconds as the cell phone flash lights in the stands took over. And the sky lit up with firecrackers.
After the game ,the Spaniards insisted that the occasion and the crowd didn’t put them off. And they did prove that with the opening chance coming Spain’s way, courtesy a slight confusion in Indian defence, but the attempted shot on goal was off target.
India eased their nerves with a turnover in the very next minute, but Mandeep Singh’s overlapping run was a bit too deep in the pocket to make the attack worth.
It was Mandeep and Nilakanta Singh who gave the Spaniards early headaches in the first quarter, with some fire-cracker runs and centre-ins. The Spanish defence took a while to figure Mandeep’s off-the-ball running, and it took 10 minutes for India to get nearest to the Spanish post. Jarmanpreet slapped from the left and Mandeep managed a deflection, but the ball was just shy of the near post.
India’s five missed penalty corners in the match began with the first in the 12th min, when the hosts tried a dummy with two stoppers. The team went for Jarmanpreet’s slap-hit, which proved futile.
That’s an area India would want to work on before facing England, and Harmanpreet admitted it after the match.
The wish of the Odisha crowd came true in the 14th min, when India had their only PC conversion of the match. It was local boy Amit Rohidas, who found the net off a rebound after Jarmanpreet’s slap-hit was saved. And it was India’s 200th goal in World Cups.
India’s tactics of switching goalkeepers in every quarter continued as Sreejesh started the match in the post and Krishan Pathak replaced him in the second and fourth quarters.
Sreejesh’s long-time understudy Pathak gave a good account of himself with some calm saves. Fair to say it was a game where he came out of Sreejesh’s shadow and was India’s best goalkeeper of the day.
The highlight of the match from the sheer skill perspective arrived in the 26th minute.
Receiving a ball on the right flank, Hardik began a stunning solo run that overlapped the striking circle and ended at the goal-mouth, where his cute little lift found deflection off a Spanish stick to enter the goal.
India’s lead doubled to 2-0.
The third quarter presented India a golden chance to add another cushion to their lead in the 33rd min.
A lovely steal by Akashdeep just inside Spain’s 23-yard went through a couple of exchanges before the ball came back to the veteran striker. But he got stick-checked in the D and the umpire signalled a stroke.
But to the horror of the Indian bench and coach Graham Reid, skipper Harmnapreeet missed it.
Goalkeeper Adrian Rafi blocked Harmanpreet’s push but lost sight of the ball, which seemed to be on the goal-line. India claimed the goal and the umpire went for video assistance to check if the ball crossed the line. It didn’t. The score remained 2-0.
The fourth quarter was perhaps the one India would want to study the most from Friday’s match.
In the 48th minute, Indian forward Abhishek got suspended with a yellow card. It looked like a harsh call for dangerous play, but the result was Abhishek on the chair in front of the technical table and India down to 10 men for 10 minutes.
That stole the momentum away from India. Before Abhishek’s yellow, Akashdeep had already served a green-card suspension when he was pulled up in the 29th minute.
The two sides of it are that coach Reid would want to keep the cards column blank as it can cost dear in crucial games ahead, while he would also want the team to learn to handle those situations like a man short on the pitch.
Spain’s frustration was, perhaps, most evident in the 52nd minute, when they got three shots at goal from one attack. But Pathak was alive to the danger. He padded the first shot away, the second was blocked by defence and the last one off a ricochet met thin air instead of the ball.
It was that kind of day for coach Max Caldas and his boys.

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