Gonzalo Peillat’s hat-trick helped Rio Olympics champions Argentina defeat India in the opening match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018 in Ipoh, Malaysia on Saturday. The match was highlighted by heavy rain due to which play got suspended during the fourth and final quarter of the match. Amit Rohidas gave India hope with a brace, thanks to penalty corners.
Argentina drew the first blood as they converted a successful penalty corner in the 14th minute. It didn’t take Peillat long to double their lead as he converted the fifth penalty corner awarded to Argentina in the 24th minute.
India smelt danger and got the better of their fears when they got the perfect opportunity two minutes later. From 2-0 down to 2-2, India took the match into their hands as Rohidas helped India go into the first-half break with a reduced margin at 2-1. The Indians kept the momentum going as they began the second-half with a confident goal from Rohidas. Peillat, however, snatched the game back from India’s hands as the Sardar Singh-led side went down on intensity.
All five goals came through drag-flicks in the match. It was a spirited performance by India, who were down to 10 men in the final five minutes of the match after Sumit was awarded a yellow card. A last-gasp effort from Talwinder Singh almost found the equaliser for India.
Even though the final quarter did not see any goals, an intense match was underway which saw play being suspended due to thunder and rain as well as a yellow card that pulled India down to ten men. India will now play England on Sunday.
India are fielding a young team in the absence of key players like Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. Drag-flick specialists Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet Singh too have been rested.