Azlan Shah Cup: India narrowly go down to Britain

May 27th, 2012 - 11:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Ipoh (Malaysia), May 27 (IANS) Five-time champions India missed chances galore and went down narrowly 2-3 to favourites Britain in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here Sunday.

India played a speedy game but failed to finish the several good moves orchestrated by their strikers.

Nonetheless, it was a credible performance by India as they came from two goals down to draw parity before a defensive lapse in the 62nd minute helped Britain find the winner through Nick Catlin.

Britain scored their first two goals through penalty corners from Glen Kirkham (28th) and Ben Hawes (43rd).

India struck back, scoring twice in the space of four minutes through a penalty corner conversion from Vokkaliga Raghunath (55th) and a stunning deflection by forward S.V. Sunil (59th) to bounce back in style.

But three minutes after drawing parity, a poor defensive lapse cost India the match as three defenders missed a through ball that setup Catlin to score the winner for Britain.

The win helped Britain moved to the second position with four points from two matches behind table-toppers New Zealand, who registered their third successive victory by defeating Pakistan 3-1 earlier in the day.

India made a good start against Britian as their speed caught the rival defence completely off-guard. India came close to open the scoring as early as in the third minute but Sunil failed to connect to a precise Tushar Khandekar’s cross from the right.

Britain earned two successive penalty corners in the 10th minute before India’s Rupinder Pal Singh dived but couldn’t connect a diagonal pass from S.K. Uthappa.

Britain were lucky to break the deadlock in the 28th minute from their third penalty corner. India goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh made a brilliant block to stop Ashley Jackson’s shot but Kirkham slammed in from the rebound to give his side the lead. Hawes converted a set-piece penalty corner to double the lead in the 43rd minute.

Desperately looking for the a goal, India pushed hard and got their first penalty corner when star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh was not on the pitch. But Raghunath struck from a penalty corner in the 55th minute to reduce the deficit.

Four minutes later, right-half Gurbaj Singh made a brilliant run, moving into the circle and sent in a cross for Sunil, whose deflection gave India the equaliser.

India had to blame themselves for the loss as three minutes later, a defensive lapse gave Britain the winner.

After Sunday’s matches, last year’s losing finalists Pakistan have three points from two outings, while India slipped to the fifth spot with three points from as many matches.

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