Friday, July 25, 2014

Commonwealth Games: Indian men overcome sloppy start to humble Wales 3-1



The Indian men’s hockey team overcame a sloppy first-half performance to outwit Wales 3-1 in their opening match of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the Glasgow National Hockey Center in Glasgow on Friday. The Terry Walsh-coached side were not allowed to play their natural game in the early exchanges by the tournament’s lowest ranked side, as the match was bereft of high-octane action.

The Terry Walsh-side, which beat 5th ranked England 3-2 and lost narrowly to 6th ranked New Zealand 2-3 in the pre-tournament warm-ups, frittered away an opportunity off their first penalty corner when Vokkaliga Raghunath’s fierce drag-flick grazed the post. To be fair, itt wasn’t exactly one-way traffic as Wales did find their way in the Indian ‘D’ and forced their first short corner in the 9th minute but failed to profit from it as PR Sreejesh came to the team’s rescue.

India finally got themselves on the scoresheet when Vokkaliga Raghunath converted their second PC - the Coorg lad, making amends for the earlier PC slip-up after the set-piece was engineered by Nikkin Thimmaiah. Wales did not allow India to enjoy the one-goal lead for long as they evened things up a few minutes later with a nice tap-in from A Cornick.

There was no lack of intent from India, but the moves lacked conviction – the 9th ranked side muffed up another PC opportunity on the stroke of half-time as both teams were tied 1-1. Rupinder Pal Singh converted India’s fifth PC after missing one earlier to pull India ahead. Comeback man Gurwinder Singh Chandi – one of the five survivors of the 2010 CWG squad – slotted home from close range to make it 3-1.

This was India’s second consecutive win over Wales in Commonwealth Games – they had beaten the same opponents 6-3 in the 1998 Bangkok edition when field hockey was introduced for the first time.
India will now play hosts and 25th ranked Scotland in their second game on Saturday.

The writer can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com












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