Two late penalty corner conversions by Jasit Singh helped India prevail 3-2 over Malaysia in the quarterfinal encounter of the Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp on Wednesday, but also justified new coach Paul van Ass’ plan to provide exposure to young players.
Coach van Ass, who recently took up the assignment as India’s national coach, wanted to test out alternate penalty corner shooters ahead of the Olympics, just in case both ace flickers V R Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh were not available at crucial junctures.
“We now have some alternative, I am very happy for Jasjit who works hard in the field,” said van Ass. “The good thing is to have penalty corner options.”
“We were not looking good in penalty corners until this game, but things clicked today,” said van Ass.
Jasjit, who made his debut as a half-back during last year’s World Cup at The Hague, was picked as the second drag-flicker for this tournament.
Raghunath was to be the first-choice penalty flicker here in Antwerp, backed by Jasjit, while Rupinder was to be rested.
After the team was chosen, Raghunath got injured during the preparatory camp and Rupinder came into the squad.
Rupinder got injured in a warm-up game here in Antwerp and did not feature in any game during the preliminary round.
In the quarterfinal match against Malaysia, Rupinder was fielded for very short periods and the penalty corners were not being effective until Jasjit came into the frame and converted India’s fourth penalty corner in the 48th minute that brought India back to 2-2 parity.
Seven minutes later, Jasjit scored again with another rasping drag-flick in what was India’s matchwinner in the quarterfinal encounter.
India had earlier opened the scoring through Satbir Singh in the third minute, only for Malaysia to get into the driver’s seat with two penalty corner conversions by captain Razie Rahim (15th minute) and Shahril Saabah (23rd).
“These are my first two drag-flick goals in international hockey,” said Jasjit, whose first goal in internationals also came against Malaysia in open field action during last year’s World Cup.