CWG men’s hockey: India in final with thrilling win over EnglandOctober 12th, 2010 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS
By Anand Philar
New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) Goalkeeper Bharat Kumar Chhetri brought off a brilliant save in the tie-breaker to help India move into the final of the men’s hockey competition in the Commonwealth Games with an aggregate 8-7 win against England here Tuesday.
India will take on World champions Australia in the final Thursday. Earlier in the day, the Australia beat New Zealand 6-2 in the first semifinal.
India, trailing 1-3 at one stage, and England went into extra-time tied 3-3 and the deadlock persisted leading to the tie-breaker, where Chhetri leapt to his right for a great save as India converted all their five strokes to England’s four.
In the tie-breaker, Sarvanjit Singh, Vikram Pillay, Sandeep Singh, Arjun Halappa and Shivendra Singh converted for India while for England, Richard Smith, Richard Mantell, Ashley Jackson and Simon Mantell got it right, but Glenn Kirkham, taking the third stroke, could not beat Chhetri.
In the regulation period, Sarvanjit (20, 59) and Pillay (57) struck for India while England converted three penalty corners through Jackson (35, 40), Simon (44)
It was a battle of wits to begin with as the both teams adopted tight man-to-man marking that left little freedom for the rival forwards.
Yet, it was not long before the Indians broke free with a series of flowing moves on either flank to stretch the England defence.
While the Indians bristled with aggression, England kept their faith in a more patient build-up and in fact, nearly scored, but what appeared to be a goal was disallowed.
Richard Alexander found Rob Moore near the penalty spot with a withering centre from the left, but the deflection to the boards was disallowed and instead, a hit-in was awarded for England.
Having survived that, the Indians went on a full-court press, but Shivendra was wide off the target from Sarvanjit’s pass in the 17th minute.
India’s persistence paid off when they forced their first and only penalty corner of the session and converted it as Saravanjit swept home a rebound off goalkeeper Fair James’ pads in the 20th minute.
England then swung into the attack, but a sharp move from the right failed to fetch them a goal as Jackson failed to get to an accurate cross from Simon.
India then managed to keep possession only to give away the ball in a moment of madness with about 50 seconds left for half-time and England equalised from the resultant turnover.
Although coach Jose Brasa, pointing to the clock from the sidelines, was instructing the players to keep the ball, Sardara Singh decided to release it with a long ball to the left corner. The move was interception resulting in a counterattack that led to a penalty corner and the equaliser through Jackson’s conversion.
The second-half began ominously for India who were down to 10 men in the 40th minute when Sardara Singh left the pitch on a green card following his challenge on Barry Middleton. England immediately forced a penalty corner that Jackson converted for a 2-1 lead.
Another infringement led to a third penalty corner for England and Simon flicked the ball to net after his brother and specialist Richard did the dummy to fox the Indian defence.
England’s dominance continued and they almost scored again, but Jackson’s drag-flick came off the post. A reprieved India decided to attack in numbers and a searing run down the right by Tushar Khandkar led to a penalty corner, but Sandeep Singh was wide of the target.
The next Indian attack was from the left and Sandeep unleashed a powerful diagonal that Pillay deflected to the boards and India breathed easier. Almost immediately, India made it 3-3 when Sarvanjit swatted home Sardara Singh’s cross from right.
India sizzled and crackled with electricity in the last quarter and it was just bad luck that they could not wrap up the match that eventually spilled into extra-time and golden goal period with the teams locked 3-3.
India had better scoring chances in the extra-time, but wasted a penalty corner and then twice Khandkar muffed in front of the goal as the tie-breaker became inevitable.
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Tags: arjun, battle of wits, bharat kumar, commonwealth games, cwg, full court press, hockey competition, india move, kirkham, little freedom, mantell, penalty corners, pillay, richard alexander, richard smith, s pass, sandeep singh, target, tie breaker, world champions australia