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FIH Pro League: India impress but go down to Dutch in shoot-out | Hockey News – Times of India


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KOLKATA: The Indian men’s hockey team once again held the world No. 1 side the Netherlands to a draw after regulation time in their FIH Pro League match.
It was the second time in as many games that Harmanpreet Singh & Co. were able to do that as the match finished 1-1 after 60 minutes at Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela on Wednesday. But unlike last time, India couldn’t get the better of them in the penalty shoot-outs as it went 4-2 for the Dutch.
While PR Sreejesh helped India earn two shoot-out wins in Pro League this season, it was Krishan Bahadur Pathak who was given his first opportunity.He did make one save but Shamsher Singh and Sukhjeet Singh both missed their shots as the Dutch grabbed the bonus point.
Despite the shootout result, it was quite a solid performance from the hosts and coach Craig Fulton would be more than happy with the way they defended and then went on the offensive whenever they had the opportunity.
“We want to gain more perspective of our game and develop our game with the squad that we have. It’s just at different phases that we have to do different things and do them better,” Fulton had said ahead of India’s matches in Rourkela and they did just that on Wednesday.
Over long periods, the Dutch, who had taken the lead early on, controlled the game, kept the possession and slowed the pace to almost a walk. But India didn’t rush. They remained patient, soaked in the pressure and went for full press to create the chances. And when they did that, the Dutch didn’t always have an answer.
Although it was few and far between during the first half, the second half saw India doing it more often and they grabbed their first PC early in the third quarter. Harmanpreet couldn’t convert it but few minutes later, India earned two more PCs.
The first from Jugraj Singh went in but the whistle had already been blown because one of the Dutch defenders had broken early. However, during the retake India found the target at last in the 38th minute. Jugraj took it once again and the ball was going wide. However, Brinkman kept it in and Gurjant Singh collected the ball, played it back to Hardik Singh, who made it 1-1.
Hardik not only scored the goal but it was his aerial ball initially that helped India earn the PC in the first place. Not only Hardik but the team as a whole kept using the aerial balls to good effect throughout the game and they are getting better at it every day.
They are sure to keep working on it in their next game too which will be against Australia, who beat Spain 4-1 earlier in the day.
Earlier, it was Floris Middendorp who scored the opener for the Netherlands in the fourth minute after the visitors made a good run into the D. Koen Bijen played the ball from the right towards Pathak and the Indian goalkeeper made a poor clearance.
It fell right in front of Middendorp, who came running down before slamming it home past Pathak. The Indian goalkeeper, however, made it up by making a double save late in the first quarter.

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