India beat England in 2 minutes
Gold Coast, April 11
India’s men played England in hockey today. Two goals were scored in the last two minutes by the team that won; that team was India. The 4-3 win is extremely heartening, especially after India’s struggles against Pakistan, Wales and Malaysia in the earlier group games. Who likes to play Australia in hockey? No one. Immediately before India got on to the turf, Australia had beaten New Zealand, taking the No. 1 position in Pool A. India didn’t want to play Australia in the semifinals; the only way to ensure that was to top Pool B. India did that, with two stunning strikes in the dying minutes of the match. India have lost the last two CWG finals to Australia — if they beat New Zealand in the semifinals on Friday, they can get a shot at revenge. For that to happen, of course, Australia would have to beat England in their semifinal match. India trailed 2-3 with four minutes left in the match; they desperately surged ahead to seek the equaliser, and a foul by England gave them an opening. A penalty corner was awarded to India, and Varun Kumar made it count. The Indians in the crowd broke into wild celebrations. That would have been enough for them, but there was more — immediately after that, Mandeep Singh scored the winning goal with a deflection with just a second left to play.India’s first two goals were scored by Rupinder Pal Singh (51st minute) and Manpreet Singh (33); for England, David Condon (16), Liam Ansell (52) and Sam Ward (56) sounded the board.
With each scrappy win, after the scrappy draw with Pakistan, coach Marijne had been expressing the satisfaction that his team won ugly. He’s repeatedly said that winning ugly is better than scoring a lovely goal or two and losing.India again showed weaknesses in defence, conceding a penalty corner late in the game when the scores were 2-2; Ward converted with a powerful drag-flick and with the clock ticking away ominously, India seemed destined to lose another game after conceding late goals. But the match had a twist in the tale yet — this time it worked for India. They surged ahead in attack and two goals in two minutes made coach Marijne a very, very happy man indeed.