The Indian U-21 hockey team faced Great Britain in their second outing at the 5th Sultan of Johor Cup. Both teams were coming off big wins, India having thrashed Pakistan 5-1 and the Reds beat hosts Malaysia 4-2. India, coming into the tournament as 2-time champions, were expected to have the upper hand. But those who expected a convincing Indian win were sorely disappointed.
James Simpson put Great Britain ahead in the 6th minute of the match, much to India’s horror. The Brits were on their A-Game right off the bat, attacking and not allowing the tournament favourites any leeway. The Blues persistence finally paid off in the 13th minute as Sumit Kumar equalized. A fast-paced first half saw India quickly pull ahead, courtesy of Sumit Kumar and Manpree. But the famed British tenacity would pay dividends as Luke Taylor converted a penalty corner that was too quick for the Indian defense.
Both teams’ defense was tight in the first half, but Britain had more shots on goal – 5 over India’s 3. Circle penentrations were on par for each team, at 6 apiece. India ended the first half with a 3-2 lead.
The second half saw a more urgent British team trying to equalize, and India were convincingly replying in kind. The Reds’ offense was quicker, and were rewarded when Jack Clee scorched a PC conversion past the Indian keeper in the 13th minute. India were unfortunate that a shot on goal that beat the British custodian, just about deflected off the post.
With neither team’s offense or defense willing to give a quarter, a stalemate seemed in the works with the score at 3-3. But the curse of the last minute goal would haunt India, as Luke Taylor converted a penalty corner to score in the 28th minute of the half. India resorted to long off-the-ball runs in an attempt to score, but the Brits held their nerve and walked off as victors at the final whistle.
India will take on Argentina in their next match, which will be on the 14th of October.