The Indian men’s hockey team vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh helped his team consolidate its position on top of Pool B with a stunning hat-trick in India’s 4-1 win over Wales at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, UK, on Thursday.
Harmanpreet Singh (18’, 19’, 41’) netted his three first before Gurjant Singh (49’) scored India’s fourth goal at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre. Wales pulled one back through Gareth Furlong’s drag-flick in the 55th minute.
The win strengthened India’s position on top of Pool B courtesy of their superior goal difference of +22. England, who beat Canada 11-2 in their final Pool B match later in the day, ended with a goal difference of +17.
Unlike previous matches against Canada and Ghana, India found themselves against the solid defence of world No. 13 Wales in the first quarter.
Wales started by keeping more ball possession but India soon started getting their circle penetration after five minutes of play.
India earned their first penalty corner in the eighth minute but the Welsh goalkeeper made sure the low powerful shot from Varun Kumar did not go past him.
Against the run of play, the Welsh midfielders pierced the Indian defence to find the stick of their forward James Carson. However, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh’s game awareness helped India prevent the early setback from a one-on-one position.
The second quarter saw much more intent from Indian forwards but the Welsh defence stayed solid.
India earned a penalty corner in the 18th minute. However, the Indian batteries swapped their positions this time and Harmanpreet Singh took India 1-0 up.
With their tails up, the Indian hockey team, through Varun Kumar’s smart play inside the Welsh D, found another penalty corner in the very next minute.
This time, Harmanpreet Singh outfoxed the Welsh runners by rolling his wrists from left to right and giving India a 2-0 lead.
At half-time, both teams enjoyed equal possession. But with more circle penetrations and three penalty corners, India dominated the Welsh half.
The third quarter was a more cagey affair but India earned a penalty stroke in the 41st minute, which was easily converted by Harmanpreet Singh for his hat-trick. The conversion also helped Harmanpreet Singh become the highest goal-scorer at CWG 2022 with nine goals.
India went 4-0 up early in the fourth quarter through the deflection by Gurjant Singh in the 49th minute.
However, despite 4-0 down, Wales tried to mount a comeback by upping the ante in the remaining minutes.
Wales pulled one back through Gareth Furlong’s drag-flick six minutes later but the effort was too little too late as India saw off the next six minutes without conceding further.
India, the table toppers in Pool B, will now take on the second-placed team from Pool A South Africa in the Commonwealth Games 2022 hockey semi-finals while England will play defending champions Australia in the last four.