India crush Bangladesh 5-1, reach Hockey World League semifinals
Indian senior men’s hockey team qualified for the semifinals of the Hero Hockey World League tournament, maintaining an all-win record, crushing Bangladesh 5-1 in their final league match at the Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday.
The hosts were expected to have it easy against the 36th ranked Bangladesh side, but their Asian neighbours raised visions of a huge upset after they drew first blood in the fifth minute, making the most of their first penalty corner through their number ten Chayan Mamunur Rahman.
The early goal from Bangladesh not only caught Sardar Singh’s men by surprise but also stunned the lively crowd at the National Stadium.
Indians had to quickly regroup so as to ensure that the match didn’t drift out of their grasp. Danish Mujtaba, who slammed a fine hat-trick in their opening game against lowly Fiji, levelled things, much to the relief of the Indian crowd when he tapped home a powerful hit from Vokkaliga Raghunath in the 15th minute.
India pressed forward with more conviction after scoring the equalizer and were soon rewarded when Rupinder Pal Singh converted a penalty corner three minutes from half-time to enable his side go into the break with a 2-1 goal advantage. It was Rupinder’s seventh goal of the tournament.
India looked to consolidate their lead in the second half even as Bangladesh tried to mount a fightback. The hosts went up 3-1 in the 50th minute when Akashdeep Singh sounded the board.
Newbie Malak Singh, who scored on his senior international debut against Fiji, racked up the fourth goal for India in the 58th minute.
Captain Sardar Singh wonderfully set up Danish Mujtaba for the fifth goal with the latter making no mistake in getting his name on the scoresheet for the first second time in the match six minutes from the final hooter.
Sardar Singh was named best player of the tournament, while Vokkaliga Raghunath was named the best defender.
Earlier, India had routed Fiji 16-0 in their first tie before larruping Oman 9-1 in their second game. They edged past Ireland 3-2, eased past China 4-0 before pipping Bangladesh on Sunday.