Two goals to nothing down, with ten minutes to the final whistle, India finally appeared to have got one on board against England.
On their fourth penalty corner, Rupinderpal Singh fired a hard and low volley to the left of England wicketkeeper George Pinner, then raised up his hand to receive high fives from his teammates. The drag flicker thought he had scored. As did his team. Celebratory music was played and the crowd cheered in agreement.
Only, the England team disagreed, calling for a referral. It turned out Rupinderpal had drag-flicked from inside the circle. No goal. The score remained 2-0 after 70 minutes.
It was that sort of a day for the hosts. Little went right for them and that was because there was little that they were doing right themselves. They perhaps enjoyed greater possession but failed to create chances. When they did send balls ahead, little came of the efforts. Their forwards inspired little confidence and never looked like beating the English defence.
India did manage to earn four PCs but failed to convert any. Of the five PCs that India gave away, two were unnecessary.
The game started promisingly. India were first off the blocks, earning two PCs in quick succession in the 14th minute. The first by VR Raghunath earned the second, but Rupinderpal shot that chance well wide. And when England’s Simon Mantell shot past a beaten PR Sreejesh ricochetted off the far post in the 17th minute, it seemed even luck was on the home team’s side.
India escaped unharmed even after a couple of PCs went England’s way – the second after Raghunath tripped and then attempted to do the same to an England forward. The first hit by Ashley Jackson grazed the bar and went wide and the second was palmed to safety by Sreejesh. It was third time unlucky for the home team.
The PC was gifted eight minutes before half-time when Kothajit Singh slipped then stretched his stick only as far as David Condon’s legs. Adam Dixon scored after a dummy attempt.
Even though the side trailed after the first half, there were some positives. India attempted a three-man defence and Raghunath, Rupinderpal and alternatively Birender Lakra and Amit Rohidas did a fair job. That meant the strengthened midfield could hold the ball better. In the second half, however, discipline was lost, passes went awry; all this when the forward line continued to waste opportunities.
Yuvraj Walmiki never seemed part of any move and SV Sunil and Mandeep Singh had a poor day. Sunil was crowded out by the English defence in the 39th minute continued…