This piece was published in Sportskeeda
The tag of reigning champions sometimes may not sit comfortably with a team and the Indian junior men’s hockey team seems to be experiencing that, going down 0-2 to Great Britain in their second tie of the 4th Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
The Harjeet Singh-led Indian colts strived hard to counter the Great Britain side in a match that witnessed a delayed start after the heavens opened up. Both teams appeared like playing a goalless opening half, but the Great Britain finally broke the logjam after Benjamin Boone rattled the Indian cage in the 29th minute – it was Boone’s second goal of the tournament.
India, who have only two survivors of the champion 2013 team – in Jarmanpreet Singh and Imran Khan, were not allowed to mount a serious comeback as Great Britain hung on to the solitary goal lead at the break.
Great Britain, who lost 1-2 to India while playing under the banner of England in the 2013 edition, threw the onus on their opponents to fightback. India had an opportunity to draw level when they won their first penalty corner in the 45th minute, but Great Britain goalkeeper Harry Gibson thwarted that producing a good save.
Great Britain soon made India pay for that set-piece slip-up as they enhanced the lead four minutes later through Samuel French. The British outfit could have made it 3-0, but failed to profit from a short corner.
India colts, who had made launched their campaign beating New Zealand 2-1 on Sunday, will now have a day’s rest before squaring off with arch-rivals Pakistan in their third match on Wednesday. India had thumped Pakistan 4-0 in the 2013 edition.
India then face hosts Malaysia on Thursday – whom they defeated 3-0 in the 2013 edition final besides settling for a 3-3 draw in the league phase. India play their fifth and final league game against Australia on Saturday.