The Indian men’s hockey team surrendered a 3-0 lead to settle for a 4-4 draw against hosts England in their second Pool B match at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, UK, on Monday.
India, ranked fifth, opened the scoring against world No. 6 England through Lalit Kumar Upadhyay in the second minute. Mandeep Singh (13’, 22’) scored a brace while Harmanpreet Singh (46’) scored India’s remaining goal at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre. Liam Ansell (42’), Nicholas Bandurak (47’, 53’) and Phil Roper (50’) scripted the incredible comeback for England.
The Indian hockey team was quick to get off the mark against England. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay cleanly trapped a long ball from Harmanpreet Singh and through clever play inside the D, helped India earn a penalty corner in the second minute.
Harmanpreet Singh’s drag-flick at the low right of the goal was saved by the English goalkeeper but Lalit Kumar Upadhyay made sure the chance did not go begging and shot the goal at the top of the net on the rebound.
England threatened to score in the fourth minute when a poor pass by Hardik Singh gifted the hosts a penalty corner. Vivek Sagar Prasad, however, made the brave first run to deflect the drag-flick and deny England an equaliser.
England enjoyed good possession but India with better position and intent upfront doubled their lead through Mandeep Singh’s powerful tomahawk to the right of the goalkeeper in the 13th minute. India’s second goal was also their 100th goal in the Commonwealth Games.
Despite Varun Kumar being handed a five-minute suspension at the start of the second quarter, India did not relent and Mandeep Singh’s shot in the 22nd minute, deflected by an England defender, tripled their lead.
England matched India in terms of possession, circle penetrations and also had their own chances in the first half. However, the visitors were far more creative in their play and tactically more sound.
After the change of ends, England put India under the pump and pulled one back through Liam Ansell’s rocket from the right edge of the circle in the 42nd minute.
Also with Varun Kumar getting his second yellow, India’s two-goal cushion looked far less safe going into the final quarter.
India, however, restored the three-goal lead when Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty corner in the 46th minute.
Nicholas Bandurak netted a vertical pass from captain Jack Waller and scored England’s second in the very next minute.
Three minutes later, England forward Phil Roper scored England’s third from the right and into the left corner of the goal and beat Indian goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak.
More trouble followed for India with forward Gurjant Singh getting a 10-minute suspension in the 52nd minute.
With India reduced to nine men, England went full attack, and Nicholas Bandurak made no mistake to script an incredible turnaround for England in the 53rd minute.
England earned a number of penalty corners in the remaining minutes but lack of finishing denied them a probable win.
With their biggest pool match away, India’s next two matches are scheduled against lower-ranked Canada and Wales on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
The table toppers in Pool B will take on the second-placed team from Pool A in the semi-finals and also avoid mighty Australia. The top two teams from the two pools (A-B) of five will advance to the semi-finals of the Birmingham 2022 men’s hockey event.