Johor (Malaysia): The Indian junior men’s hockey team remains in contention for a berth in the Final, playing their hearts out during a 5-5 draw with Great Britain in the 10th Sultan of Johor Cup here on Friday.
For India, Poovanna CB (7′), Amandeep (50′), Araijeet Singh Hundal (53′) and Sharda Nand Tiwari (56′, 58′) were the scorers, while for Great Britain, Max Anderson (1′, 40′), Harrison Stone (42′) and Jami Golden (54′, 56′) were on target.
With this draw, India moved to eight points from five matches (2 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss), behind Australia who have 10 from four (3 wins and 1 draw). Great Britain are third with seven points (2 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses). South Africa and Japan have six points each from four matches while Malaysia have zero points from four games in this six-team competition.
On Friday, defending champions Great Britain were out of the blocks faster than India, with Max Anderson (1′) scoring the first goal of the game, early on. A few minutes later, India got on the score-sheet too, with midfielder Poovanna CB (7′) finding the back of the net. The pacy and evenly contested first quarter ended with the teams tied 1-1.
The second quarter saw both the teams continue to match each other play for play, with neither allowing the other a way through. The match, which is a repeat of the Final from the 2018 and 2019 editions, went into the half-time break with Great Britain and India all square at 1-1.
With both teams chasing a win, it was India who had an early look at goal in the second half, when they won a penalty corner in the 32nd minute but weren’t able to convert. Nonetheless, it was Great Britain who edged ahead, five minutes before the end of the quarter, as Max Anderson (40′) scored his second goal of the match. A couple of minutes later, Harrison Stone (42′) added another for Great Britain as they took control of the game, ending the quarter 3-1 ahead.
India needed a strong final quarter and began the final phase on the front foot. Five minutes in, India halved the deficit as Amandeep (50′) got himself on the scoresheet. Shortly after, the contest was back on level terms with Araijeet Singh Hundal (53′) scoring India’s third. Great Britain, however, went through gears in the next few minutes with Jami Golden (54′, 56′) restoring the two-goal advantage.
Sharda Nand Tiwari’s (56′) penalty corner brought India right back into the game. A couple of minutes later, Sharda Nand Tiwari converted another penalty corner, levelling the scores at 5-5. Neither side could find a winner and walked away with a point each.
India’s chances of playing the Final of the 10th Sultan of Johor Cup depend on the outcome of the matches between Malaysia-Japan and Australia-South Africa. Both Japan and South Africa are on six points and winning Friday’s match will take them to nine and deny India.