After a disappointing outing against hosts Netherlands last evening, the Indian men's hockey team bounced back with a convincing 3-0 win against Argentina here in the ongoing FIH Hockey Pro League 2022-23 on Thursday.
It was India skipper Harmanpreet Singh (33'), Amit Rohidas (39') and Abhishek (59') who scored in India's win while goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak took turns to keep a clean slate. This win put India ahead of Great Britain in the pool standing with 27 points from 14 matches.
At the start of the first quarter, Argentina looked more aggressive on and off the ball. They forced India to make errors while defending in the D resulting in a PC as early as in the 3rd minute but couldn't make much of the chance.
India picking up the ball possession broke into a quick-fire counterattack with forward Abhishek taking a powerful shot but the ball hit the post. Argentina continued to look dangerous in their attack but India's defence held strong with experience goalie PR Sreejesh making a couple of splendid saves.
With neither team managing a goal in the first quarter, the second quarter began with India making a positive start turning up the pressure. Young strikers Karthi Selvam, Abhishek and Sukhjeet Singh took turns to create field goal opportunities but to no avail, while Argentina kept Krishan Pathak busy in the post. They made some strong forays into the circle but Pathak continued to make some sharp saves.
Less than three minutes into the third quarter, India earned their first PC of the game - thanks to Mandeep Singh. Having lost the referral a few seconds ago, the team looked to make a statement and they did exactly that with Harmanpreet Singh executing a perfect drag-flick to score. This took his personal goal count to 18 this season.
In the 39th minute, Amit Rohidas extended the lead to 2-0 with a superbly converted PC. It was Abhishek who won the PC giving India a chance to double the lead. With about three minutes left in this quarter, Mandeep Singh took a lethal shot on goal giving his team hopes of a third goal but Santiago made a fine save denying Mandeep his 100th international goal.
The match continued to thrill the spectators as the fourth quarter unfolded. India put their brilliance in counterattack on displayed after Argentina lost possession in the 48th minute. It was a 2 Vs 3 dribble but India stitched together a good defence to stop Argentina from finding the target.
While Argentina pushed for that elusive goal, India remained undeterred and managed a third goal through yet another fine counterattack. It was Vivek Sagar Prasad making a clear run at goal, with the Argentina goalie rushing towards him, he made an unselfish pass to Abhishek who slotted the ball inside an unguarded net, sealing a 3-0 win for India.
Next, India will face the hosts Netherlands in their second match against them on Friday. (ANI)