The Indian Men's Hockey Team enthralled the evening audience at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium on Friday as they clinched a 3-2 win against reigning World Champions Germany in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/23.
Goals were scored by Harmanpreet Singh (30+) and Sukhjeet Singh (32' and 43') for India while Paul-Philipp Kaufmann (45') and Michel Struthoff (58') scored for Germany. India had begun this season of the prestigious league with a 4-3 and 7-4 win against New Zealand followed by a 2-3 loss and 2-2 (3-1 SO) win against Spain in the home games played in October-November last year. The hosts resumed their home games in style with a clinical performance against the Germans even though it was the World Champions who got off to a strong start with back-to-back Penalty Corners being created in the first two quarters. However, India held their nerves in PC defence to keep a clean slate. Striker Abhishek's efforts in the circle in the later part of the second quarter finally brought the momentum India was vying for. Up until then, stray attempts by strikers Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh in the initial minutes of the game was put away by German keeper Alexander Stadler. Abhishek's quick thinking in his tackle to surge ahead inside the striking circle forced a German infringement that earned the home team their first PC of the match. Harmanpreet Singh was top-class in his attempt, picking up a good injection by Hardik Singh to fiercely put it away into the right corner of the post giving India the much-needed 1-0 lead in the 30th minute. The 1-0 lead at half-time hooter came as a shot-in-the-arm for India's attack as they built on it in the third quarter. A brilliant pass by Jarmanpreet Singh from the 25m mark, slicing into the circle to find a perfect deflection by Sukhjeet Singh fetched India their second goal in quick succession. About 11 minutes later, Sukhjeet struck again when Manpreet Singh powered a long pass from the midfield to the striking circle which was picked up well by talented youngster Karthi who then assisted Sukhjeet to score his second goal of the match and India's third against a formidable German defence. Apart from stitching together a good attack, with the midfield and forward line totally in-sync, India made some smart referrals that kept the German attack at bay. The visitors, though, managed a goal in the 45th minute when Elian Mazkour set up Paul-Philipp Kaufmann to score. India showcased some superb deep defence in the final moments of the match with Germany pulling out their goalkeeper and adding an extra man to their attack. Always known to finish well, Germany tucked in a goal with just over two minutes left for the final hooter. It was Hannes Muller who set up the goal by Michel Struthoff. The action did not end there with India being awarded a penalty stroke in the dying seconds of the match but Harmanpreet could not convert the goal but eventually held on to the 3-2 lead and earned the much-deserving three points. (ANI)