Hockey Champions Trophy 2018: India surprise Argentina, win two matches in a row
If someone thought the whitewashing of Pakistani hockey team by Team India in the opening match of the FIH Men's Champions Trophy was a mere fluke, they were in for a huge disappointment. Riding high on the success of the previous match, the Indian team stunned Olympic champions Argentina in the very next match, defeating them with an impressive score of 2-1.
Securing a lead in the very first half
Right from the word go, it was Team India who led the way throughout the match. Into the attacking mode from the start, the Indian team found their very first goal only 2 minutes into the second quarter, when a penalty corner was brilliantly converted by star drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, giving India a lead of 1-0.
Unlike the previous encounters, coach Harendra's boys refused to budge, and continued the onslaught on the Argentine team, finding another brilliant opportunity in the 28th minute, which was successfully converted by star forward Mandeep Singh into another goal, giving India a lead of 2-0.
However, the smiles in the Indian camp did not last very long, as the Argentine team struck back, with star drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat converting a penalty corner successfully only seconds before halftime.
Defenders shine once again
2nd half is a time when the game could turn anyway, and unfortunately, India have been mostly on the wrong end of the same. However, this time, the defenders took complete control of the game, refusing to allow Argentina that one equalizer which could end the game in a draw or give Argentina a chance to come back.
Argentina, though down, was certainly not out. Desperate to make a comeback, they assaulted the Indian goal from all sides. However, it was to the credit of defenders Jarmanpreet Singh and Surender Kumar, who did not allow a single Argentine player to evade their stickwork and score a goal.
In the 43rd minute, Argentina did receive a brilliant chance to score a goal. However, P R Sreejesh once again came to the rescue with a brilliant save, making amends for the solitary miss he had in the 30th minute. The Indians hadn't given up and did attempt a re-run of the previous match with an all-out attack in the dying minutes.
This time, however, they were unsuccessful in converting the chances, but that didn't dampen the Indian spirits, as they returned to the camp with a smart win, a fitting tribute to their captain for the day, Sardara Singh, who had completed 300 international matches with this encounter.
The future course
After this match, going by the current statistics, India is the undisputed table topper in the current FIH Champions Trophy. They now go on a well-deserved break for three days, before they meet the defending champions, Team Australia on 27th of June. Coach Harendra Singh, who has impressed everyone with the brilliant conversion of Team INDIA into a fiercely competitive unit, will have his acid test, as his boys meet the Aussies on the field.
In case India loses or even makes a draw, the game is still open. But if the Indians manage to turn the tables on Australia, they shall create history as they enter a second successive final of the FIH Champions Trophy. The last two matches against Belgium and Netherlands shall then be a mere formality, with none of them affecting their aspirations much.