Hockey World League finals: India overcome the Netherlands in a fascinating match to win the Bronze medal
India overcame the Dutch challenge in an enthralling Bronze medal match which went to the shootout and seal the bronze medal in the Hockey World League Final in Raipur on Sunday. The match ended 5-5 after the four quarters, and India won the shootout 3-2 to lay claim to 3rd place and with that the bronze as well. Notably, India did not win a single match up until the quarter finals, and going on to win the Bronze medal from there needed a gritty performance from them.
The Dutch stamped their authority from the start of the match and did not take long to get ahead as Mirco Pruijser scored for them in the 11th minute. India tried to play an attacking game with SV Sunil constructing a number of attacks from the right flank, however, they failed to equalize in the first quarter.
The Indians kept attacking the Oranje goal on the counter, but they were not able to convert the pressure into a goal. The Dutch took full advantage of it and they doubled the lead in Q2 through Niek Van Der Schoot. The first half finished with the Dutch completely on top of the Indians and few would have put their bet on the Indian team after the half.
Resurgent India fight back in second half
The men in blue asserted themselves from the word go in the Q3 and were duly rewarded for it as Ramandeep scored in the ninth minute of the quarter to take India closer to the Oranje.
The fourth quarter was the most fascinating of all, as seven goals were scored in the space of 13 minutes. Rupinder Pal Singh equalized for India through a penalty corner in the third minute of Q4 and four minutes later Ramandeep gave India the lead.
The Dutch did not hold back as they attacked in numbers and found their third goal just two minutes after Ramandeep’s goal. India was awarded a penalty stroke amidst great confusion and chaos, and Rupinder calmly slotted the ball to give India a 4-3 lead. Just a couple of minutes later, India further increased their lead as Akashdeep scored the fifth goal for his team.
Netherlands were definitely not going to be content and they again poured forward in numbers and scored from a penalty stroke with only two minutes left on the board. The Dutch then earned a penalty corner in the final seconds of the match and scored off the last shot of the match to make it 5-5.
The shootout was no less dramatic as India failed to score from their first two chances and the Oranje managed one. Sreejesh saved the third Dutch shot to give Lakra a chance to make the score 1-1, and he did. Both India and Netherlands scored from their next shots, but Sreejesh denied Verga which left India with a clear cut chance to win the Bronze medal.
Manpreet was obstructed by the Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann and the Indians were awarded a penalty stroke which Rupinder scored off and India won the Bronze medal in the Hockey World League finals.