India started their campaign with a 2-0 win over Spain
India began their campaign in the FIH Men’s World Cup on a winning note as they beat Spain 2-0 at Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela on January 13.
Host Odisha had a lot to cheer as it was local boy Amit Rohidas who opened the scoring from the penalty corner in the 12th minute.
Hardik Singh then added a brilliant field goal in the 26th minute after a fine solo run as India sat pretty in second place in Pool D. England, who slammed five past debutants Wales, were now leading the group on goal difference.
India, despite the result, should actually rue the scoreline, for they dominated the World No. 8 team from Europe. What should worry the hosts is the fact that out of five penalty corners, they managed to convert only one. Skipper Harmanpreet Singh made things bitter as he also missed a penalty stroke in the third quarter.
On the positive side, Krishan Bahadur Pathak once again showed that his performances in the past were no flukes and he is ready to take the mettle from veteran star goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
Pathak was brilliant under the bar, making some fine saves, including penalty corners.
India was quick on the attack and counter-attack, winning many balls from their opponents. Spain, which had dominated the game in the initial minutes, had their moments but wasted three penalty corners.
However, after seizing their rivals, India gradually took control by playing a more pressing game. Most of the attacks came from the right flank, with Nilakanta Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Abhishek in the thick of things.
India’s incessant pressing paid off as they got three penalty corners in quick succession and took the lead in the 12th minute of the second one through Rohidas.
But despite the goal, India failed to increase its lead despite creating so many chances. In the 13th minute, India got another penalty corner, but Harmanpreet failed to find the target. Just before the end of the first quarter, Abhishek outwitted a couple of Spanish defenders inside the circle, but his efforts did not result in a goal.
With Spain pressing for an equaliser, the second quarter looked more like the first quarter. But four minutes from halftime, Hardik made a fantastic run down the left and then sent a cross towards the goal. His effort beat the Spanish goalkeeper before a defender deflected it in.
The third quarter had its moment as Harmanpreet missed a penalty stroke in the 32nd minute. His effort was ruled to have been saved by the Spanish keeper after a video referral by India.
Earlier in the day, three-time former champions Australia served a warning to others with an 8-0 demolition of France in a Pool A match.
Tom Craig and Jeremy Haywards scored three goals, while Ogilvie Flynn and Wickham Tom completed the tally.
Ansell Liam scored a brace and Park Nicholas, Roper Phil and Bandurak Nicholas each hit the net once as England thumped Wales 5-0.