The Indian Men's Hockey Team continued their winning ways in the ongoing FIH Hockey Pro League with a scintillating 6-3 win against reigning world champions Germany here at the world's largest-seated Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium on Monday.
Jugraj Singh (21'), Abhishek (22', 51'), Selvan Karthi (24', 46'), and Harmanpreet Singh (26') scored for India, while Germany's goals came from Tom Grambusch (3'), Gonzalo Peillat (23'), and Malte Hellwig (31').
Going into the match as World No. 4 after their previous two wins against reigning World Champions Germany (3-2) and World No. 4 Australia (5-4) elevated them from World No.6 in the FIH World Ranking that was updated on March 12th, India rode on their attacking skills to hand Germany their second loss on the trot.
However, at the start of the game, Germany was in command. The visitors took the lead with a goal in the third minute of the game. Tom Grambusch scored off a penalty corner awarded after India's infringement in the circle. Though the early setback slowed India's pace, they maintained a good structure to come back in the following quarter.
Only five minutes into the second quarter, Vishnukant helped India win their first PC of the match. A good injection by Abhishek and a perfect stop by Vivek Sagar Prasad was picked up powerfully by Jugraj Singh, who made his India debut last year during the FIH Hockey Pro League. He kept the ball low aiming the centre board of the post, executing the flick to the T giving India the much-needed breakthrough.
The equalizer set the pace for India's attack as they scored their second goal in the very next minute. This time it was Harmanpreet's overhead pass which was picked up brilliantly by Abhishek who dribbled into the circle to shoot it past German goalie Alexander Stadler. There were three more goals that followed in this quarter. It was Gonzalo Peillat who equalised with a brilliant PC in the 23rd minute. A minute later, Sukhjeet Singh assisted Selvam Karthi who scored India's third goal. They extended the lead to 4-2 when Harmanpreet successfully converted a PC, awarded after a dangerous play call by the umpire when Harmanpreet made an overhead pass to Sumit near the circle.
Attempting a comeback in the third quarter, Germany scored a goal in the 31st minute through Malte Hellwig narrowing India's lead to 4-3. This quarter was all about India being calm and defending well with new goalie Pawan making some excellent saves to keep his team in the game.
The home team shifted to top gear in the final quarter when they set up edge-of-the-seat attacking formations with long and accurate passing that punctured the German defence. A cross-field pass by Dilpreet Singh to Sukhjeet set up India's 5th goal in the 46th minute. An unselfish pass by Sukhjeet to Karthi, who got a perfect deflection into the post, put Germany under pressure. Five minutes later, Abhishek's field goal set-up by Jarmanpreet Singh ensured India cruised to their third straight win in the ongoing home matches in the prestigious League.
This was India's fifth outright win in seven matches in the 2022/23 season of the FIH Hockey Pro League.
They 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. (ANI)