Hockey

FIH Pro League: Positives from India’s first leg fixtures at South Africa

Pavan Suresh

The Indian men’s hockey team had a decent outing from the first leg of the Pro Hockey League 2022 played at Northwest University, Potchefstroom. Under the captaincy of Manpreet Singh, they won 3 matches defeating twice South Africa by a huge margin, winning against France, and then performing poorly in their 2nd match against France.

It was a brilliant performance by Asian bronze medallists as they dominated South Africa winning both matches by 10-2. They won their opening match against France with 5-0 scoreline. Despite getting more penalty corners, India was completely outplayed by France in their 2nd match losing by 2-5.

Dominating performance against South Africa

The Indian hockey team produced a dominating display against the hosts, South Africa, on 9th February with a comprehensive 10-2 win. Harmanpreet Singh converted the first penalty corner into a goal in the 2nd minute to give India a 1-0 lead. India’s PC conversion was brilliant as Jugraj Singh scored from two penalty corners in the 4th and 6th minute to put India 3-0 ahead.

India scored from field goals and left South Africa on the backfoot. At the end of the first quarter, India led 4-0. Jugraj Singh scored a hattrick with another penalty corner to make matters worst for South Africa. Dilpreet Singh converted two field goals, Gurashjbhit also scored two goals. Mandeep Singh, Abhishek showed his skills to score one goal. Despite South Africa converting two penalty corners, India won the match easily by 10-2.

After a shocking loss to France by 2-5, the Indian team returned to winning ways defeating South Africa with the same score of 10-2. South Africa opened the account with a brilliant penalty corner goal by Daniel Bell in the 12th minute. It was a brilliant performance by the Indian team as Harmanpreet Singh scored four goals three from penalty corners and one from a penalty stroke.

Varun Kumar, Mandeep Singh, Sumit, and Shamsher scored one goal each. Shailand Lakra scored two brilliant field goals to win the match easily. It was a superb performance by bronze medallists of the Olympic games. Krishna Pathak was brilliant saving a brilliant penalty stroke. P Sreejesh also performed reasonably well to deny South Africa goals.

Mixed bag performance against France

The Indian hockey team started their Pro Hockey League journey with a dominating 5-0 win over France. Indian team dominated possession right from word go but could not convert chances into goals.

Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner into a goal in the 21st minute to give a 1-0 lead. India converted one more PC as Varun Kumar made it 2-0 after 3 more minutes. Shamser scored a superb field goal in the 28th minute to put India in a commanding position with a 3-0 scoreline and ended the first half with the same scoreline.

Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh converted two penalty corners in the third quarter to leave France on the backfoot. India kept the pressure on France’s defense not allowing them a chance in the game.

In their second match against France on 12th Feb, India could not match the speed of France. Jarmanpreet Singh scored from a field goal to level scores at 1-1 in the 22nd minute. Harmanpreet Singh kept India’s hopes alive with a penalty stroke in the 57th minute reducing the gap to 2-3. France scored two more goals to dent India’s hopes.

Harmanpreet Singh has been in brilliant form so far with 7 goals from 4 matches. His performance with penalty corners kept the goalkeepers on the toes. Jugraj Singh and Mandeep Singh also showed good performances with 3 goals each.

Varun Kumar, Shailand Lakra, Dilpreet Singh, Gurasbhjit Singh, and Shamsher Singh scored two goals. It has been a team effort so far. The Indian team is currently second in the points table and would be looking to continue making more goals when they face Spain on 26th and 27th Feb at Kalinga Stadium, Bhuvneshwar.

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