The previous India-Germany match in the Gold Cup hockey tournament had luck playing in India blues. But an encore on Friday was not to be. The world and Olympic champions stamped their authority with a comprehensive 4-2 victory,making their mathematical chances of playing the final more of a real possibility.
Things started brightly for the hosts as they took the lead in the 12th minute as an unmarked Tushar Khandker slapped in a reverse hit after being put through by Gurbaj Singh.
But Germany,usually known for their tight marking and air-tight defence,soon decided to cut loose. With lightning runs down either flank by Christopher Wesley and Jan Philipp Rabante,short and accurate passes and flawless trapping,the Germans dominated the game.
They levelled immediately through Rabante,and thereafter there was no stopping them. Kevin Lim got their second goal in the 21st minute,Man of the Match Moritz Furste converted a penalty corner in the 34th minute for their third,and the match was all but over.
India tried more variations in the second half,but luck,it seemed,had decided to change sides. Their shots went wide and the two penalty corners were saved by Nicolas Jacobi. They did pull one back in the 64th minute through Sandeep Singhs penalty corner,but it wasnt enough.
This was Germanys first win in the tournament,and Indias first defeat. A draw against New Zealand in their last league match on Saturday may still be enough to make the final,but a defeat and a German win against Holland can make things dicey.
Coach Harendra Singh said he will still go ahead with his plan of giving an outing to every player. For me,testing the players is important,and thats what I will try to do tomorrow, he said.
Holland beat New Zealand 4-1 to move into the final,with Robbert Kemperman,Lucas Judge,Jolie Wouter and Jeroen Hertzberger scoring for the winners.