India thump Poland 3-0 for second win in HWL Semi-Final
Antwerp, June 23 (IANS) India registered their second consecutive victory in the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final defeating Poland 3-0 in a pool A contest at the Brasschaat Municipal Park here on Tuesday.
For India, Yuvraj Walmiki (23rd minute), skipper Sardar Singh (42nd) and Devindar Walmiki (52nd) scored to give them the second back-to-back win after Saturday’s 3-2 win over France.
World No.9 India started on an aggressive not as they made circle penetration at least seven times but without any results in the first quarter. The 2014 Asian Games champions attacked from both the flanks with Birendra Lakra, Gurbaj Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Nikkin Thimmiah, centre-half Sardar and Walmiki on the forefront of the strategy. Akashdeep Singh got two good opportunities to tap in.
World No.17 Poland got their moment and came close to scoring off a penalty corner in the 21st minute. Pawel Bratkowski flicked the ball high and Indian custodian P.R. Sreejesh was up for the challenge, thrusting his right shoulder to ward off the danger.
After several moments that saw Indian forwards lacking finishing touches, they scored in the 23rd minute. Lakra drove the ball inside the circle, only to be deflected by a defender. Yuvraj, lurking in front of goalkeeper Arkadiusz Matuszak, pounced on it, lifting the ball into the net to make it 1-0.
In the dying moments before the half-time, India were rewarded with a penalty corner but Manpreet Singh’s strike was palmed away by Matuszak.
Indian players organised their attack more purposefully in the third quarter but they messed up a penalty corner variation. However, they recovered and got their second goal as Sardar surged ahead and exercised a reverse hand strike from the top of the circle to gave India the 2-0 comfort in the 42nd minute.
Into the final quarter, Paul van Ass-coached India played with much more freedom and expressed themselves more.
The biggest positive for India was the performance of theirn defenders. Unlike Saturday’s show, they were more disciplined, combining well among themselves and they put up a good show in boosting the attack, too. Lakra, Manpreet and Jasjit went few yards ahead, supplying more balls as compared to the first three quarters.
In the 52nd minute, midfielder Chingnelsana Singh blasted the ball at a blistering speed on to the top of the circle. Devindar, who scored on his debut against France on Saturday, deflected the ball in for India’s third goal and afterwards Poland hardly troubled the Asian giants.
India next face arch-foes Pakistan on Friday.
In the other match of the day, Great Britain were held 2-2 by neighbours Ireland.