Following his team's win over Spain in the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup, attacking midfielder Hardik Singh, one of the goalscorers in the match, lauded the team for their performance, calling the win a 'team effort'.
India kicked off the 2023 Hockey World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Spain, picking up three crucial points in the Group D clash at the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela on Friday.
"It was a team effort. The credit for the 2-0 win goes to the entire team," the midfielder told mediapersons after the match.
Coming to the match, Amit Rohindas (12') and Hardik Singh (26') scored for India to help the hosts open their World Cup campaign in style. In spite of Abhishek receiving a 10-minute yellow card in the final quarter, the Indian team held off the Spaniards and maintained a clean sheet.
Spain attacked right from the start as India took time to settle down in the initial minutes of the first quarter. However, the Indians found their rhythm soon and dominated possession.
The first 10 minutes in the first quarter saw both teams looking to attack and take the lead early in the game. While the hosts looked to attack the Spanish left flank, the Spaniards were unable to penetrate the resolute Indian defence.
India earned their first penalty corner (PC) of the game in the 12th minute thanks to an outstanding effort from Abhishek in the circle. However, the Indians were unable to score as Jarmanpreet's drag missed the target and his attempt was deflected off a Spanish defender.
The hosts got their second penalty corner in the first quarter, which was taken by captain Harmanpreet Singh. An alert Amit Rohidas converted the rebound as the host took the lead in the 13th minute.
India ended the first quarter with a 1-0 lead, with the hosts raiding the opponent's box regularly.
Krishan Pathak replaced PR Sreejesh as India's goalkeeper for the second quarter. The Indian defence was put under the pump by Spanish attackers in the second quarter as they won their first PC in the 24th minute. However, Pau Cunill failed to find the target as Indian shot-stopper Pathak deflected the flick from the defender.
Attacking midfielder Hardik Singh displayed fabulous stick skills to run into the box from the left side and stormed past the Spanish defenders to score a spectacular field goal, extending India's lead to 2-0.
Spain was on the verge of finding their first goal in the dying minutes of the second quarter but the combined defence of Surender Kumar and Pathak denied the Spaniards a goal.
The first half ended with India leading 2-0 as they scored once in both quarters and maintained a clean sheet against a spirited Spanish team.
India began the second half with an opportunity to extend their lead to three goals after Akashdeep Singh managed to earn the hosts a penalty stroke. However, India captain Harmanpreet Singh failed to put the ball past the Spanish goalkeeper Rafi Adrian.
Abhishek was a livewire in the field, troubling the Spaniards with regular forays into their half. India was awarded another penalty corner, the fifth for the hosts, in the 37th minute. But the Indians were unable to convert it.
Shamsher Singh's failure to help the ball into the goal near the post robbed India of a third goal. However, the Indians never let the Spaniards off the hook and were excellent with their passes.
The third quarter ended with India unable to find a third goal.
Spain had a stroke of luck at the beginning of the fourth quarter as Abhishek received a yellow card, reducing the hosts to 10 men in the final quarter. Spain were awarded two penalty corners in the fourth quarter but failed to convert on both occasions as India secured a 2-0 win in their World Cup opener.
Amit Rohindas was declared the Player of the Match for his first goal for the hosts and his clinical performance in the match.
With a 2-0 win in the Group-D clash, India are on second in the group table. England, too, managed to log three points with an emphatic 5-0 win over Wales and are topping the group owing to a superior goal difference.
India will face England on January 15 in what is being billed as a marquee clash. (ANI)