इंडियन आवाज़     30 May 2024 06:11:20      انڈین آواز

Asian Games hockey: India beat defending champions Japan 4-2 for top spot in Pool A

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Harpal Singh Bedi
Riding on striker Abhishek’s brace India overpowered defending champion 4-2 to record their third straight win in Pool A hockey match at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium in Hangzhou, China, on Thursday.
  The win enabled India to to reclaim the top position from Pakistan in this pool’s standings. The two teams are unbeaten after three matches but India are on top due to their +33-goal difference compared to Pakistan’s +30.     India will play against Pakistan will be played on Saturday. The winner of the India vs Pakistan hockey match will go to the top of the Pool A points table. The top two teams from the group of six will progress to the semi-finals.

Besides  Abhishek,   Mandeep Singh (24’) and Amit Rohidas (34’)  scored for the winners while Japan hit two back in the final four minutes through Genki Mitani (57’) and Ryosei Kato (60’) to make the final score respectable.

World no three, India opened the game on an aggressive note and put world No. 19 Japan under pressure from the start and earned their first penalty corner of the match in the fifth minute. However, captain Harmanpreet Singh’s drag-flick went wide of the goal.

Japan defended deep and threatened to score from back-to-back penalty corners but the Indian defence led by goalkeeper Krishnan Bahadur Pathak managed to keep the reigning champions at bay.

India, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists, found their breakthrough in the 13th minute through Abhishek, who pounced on a rebound after Nilakanta Sharma’s shot was blocked inside the circle (1-0). The men in blue maintained the tempo in the second quarter as well. For Japan, a five-minute suspension to their captain Masaki Ohashi in the 20th minute came as another setback.

Forward Mandeep Singh doubled the lead in the 24th minute against the 10-man Japan after laying hold of Nilakanta ’s searching pass into the striking circle and converting it with ease (2-0).

India mounted more trouble on Japan through their first goal off the penalty corner in the third quarter. Amit Rohidas neatly trapped Hardik Singh’s injection on the second castle and fired over the top-right of the goalkeeper to make it three in the 34th minute.

A brilliant play in the midfield from India in the third minute of the final quarter was followed by a selfless play from Mandeep Singh in the attacking third. Mandeep Singh drew the Japanese goalkeeper towards him and passed it to Abhishek, who tapped in India’s fourth in front of the empty goal.

Japan pulled two goals back in the final five minutes of play through Genki Mitani and Ryosei Kato but the healthy lead helped India seal the match .

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