Call it luck, or just some brilliant skills on display from the hockey team during times of absolute madness, but you just cannot stop talking about the miraculous recovery as the team managed two goals with less than a 100 seconds left in the match. With a spot in the semis already sealed, the onus was on Sjoerd Marijne’s boys in a must-win game to emerge victorious to top the group and hence avoid Australia till the finals. A draw or a loss would’ve meant that England will retain their top spot and hence India would have to face the top-ranked Aussies in the knockout match. But thanks to some last minute heroics, fans don’t have to fear about the above scenario as India thumped England in what proved to be a thriller and nail-biting encounter.
England started the proceedings in style on a dominant note, by pressing high and nullifying any forward move by the Indian attackers. First few minutes of the game were all England as India started panicking inside their own goal but the side slowly made their way back into the game. Harmanpreet troubled the English defenders in the early minutes of the 1st quarter but his pass failed to find a teammate eventually losing possession. India missed two early chances with Dilpreet failing to read a pass from captain Manpreet Singh. PR Sreejesh saved the first penalty corner of the game awarded to England near the halfway mark in the first quarter. The scoreboard was still 0-0 as the first quarter ended with India patiently passes the ball around waiting for the whistle to be blown.
England then adopted a more aggressive approach as David Condon scored a goal with just two minutes into the second quarter. they went on to win another penalty corner and once again it was PR Sreejesh to the rescue. India looked a lot more defensive as England continued to attack. The last few minutes of the second quarter saw England make a wave of attacks as they were keen on building on their lead. It was then called half-time and the Indian team had an uphill task at hand if they were to win the match.
India entered the third quarter with a much more positive intent. They won a penalty which was later blocked. The skippManpreeteet Singh then scored the equaliser in the 32nd minute and it was here, that we first got the glimpses of what would prove to be a fiery finish. The goal buoyed the Indian spirits but it was important for them to continue on the momentum. They kept attacking but England kept on defending as the third quarter drew to a close with the scoreline reading 1-1.
The final quarter saw both the teams searching for that second goal to take an-all important lead in the game. It was then India’s Rupinder Pal Singh as he managed to score on a penalty in the 51st minute to take the score to 2-1. But India’s joy was short-lived as a minute later, Liam Ansell converted a penalty to make it 2-2. England then managed another penalty as India’s video referral was refused and Sam Ward made full use of the opportunity to give England the crucial lead with just four minutes left in the match. It appeared all over for India as they made some last-moment substitutions that included bringing on Varun Kumar for Suraj Karkera. The move paid dividends immediately as he scored the equalizer for India off a penalty in the 58th minute. With just two minutes left, India kept on attacking as they had nothing to lose. It appeared as if the players were charging across the field and crowding near the goal post. And then came the moment of glory, just 30 seconds before the horn. Mandeep Singh scored off a long hop pass by the skipper, which went past goalie George Pinner’s shoulders to see off an India victory.
Two goals just before the end of the game meant India went from staring down the jaws of defeat to celebrating an unlikely victory. Unlikely and Miraculous. The crowd at the Gold Coast Centre, which included a lot of Punjabis went berserk as the Indian team completed a victory lap to thank its supporters.
India will now face New Zealand at the same venue on Friday, April 13 while England will go up against the mighty Australians in the first semi-final.