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Hockey World Cup 2023: India held by England in a hard-fought Group D meet; supporters thrilled

Hockey World Cup 2023: India and England clashed in an intensely-fought Group D contest, as both sides settled for a deserving draw. However, the supporters were thrilled, especially by the intensity of the gameplay by both sides.

Hockey World Cup 2023: India held by England in a hard-fought Group D meet; supporters thrilled-ayh
First Published Jan 15, 2023, 9:18 PM IST

India played out a goalless draw against England in an entertaining pool match to remain in contention for a direct quarterfinal berth in the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup here on Sunday. Both sides failed to score in an evenly contested Pool D match despite getting ample chances to force a result at the jam-packed Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela. England got eight penalty corners against India's four. But the home team's penalty corners defence was impeccable. England and India are now on four points each from two matches. Who tops the pool and qualifies directly for the quarterfinals will be decided on January 19 when India plays Wales while England takes on Spain. Both will be played at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Meanwhile, supporters were thrilled by the intense gameplay by both the teams.

If two teams are on equal points and have won the same number of matches, the side with a better goal difference will be ranked higher. England now has a goal difference of plus five after beating Wales 5-0 in its opening match against plus two of India, who had emerged 2-0 winner against Spain.

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England dominated in the first quarter as it got five penalty corners, one after the other. But India defended the PCs quite well, as Manpreet Singh was the first to rush out and close down the angle. Mandeep Singh won India's first penalty corner towards the end of the first quarter, but Manpreet's stop was not the best, forcing captain Harmanpreet Singh to abort his drag-flick.

As soon as the second quarter started, Wallace Zachary's hit from inside the Indian circle came off Krishan Bahadur Pathak high, and England got its sixth PC but again wasted it. England kept entering the Indian ring and got its seventh penalty corner, but first rusher Amit Rohidas was quick enough to fend off the strike.

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It was end-to-end stuff for a few minutes before Harmanpreet earned a penalty corner for India, the second of the match, but he fluffed it. After Nilam Sanjeep Xess made a last-minute clearance in the Indian 'D' in the 24th minute, Hardik Singh attempted a fierce reverse shot from the top of England's circle, only to miss the target by a whisker.

India pressed and earned their fourth PC, but England was able to clear after a scramble inside the circle. It was then the turn of Varun Kumar to try his luck, but his shot failed to cause any harm. India was the dominant side in the second quarter but could not score as the two sides failed to break the deadlock at halftime.

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David Condon had a try in the 37th minute but went wide. But India was unlucky not to have taken the lead the next minute as Hardik's double shot was saved by England's goalie. The match was spiced up, and it was the turn of England to get a golden chance as the Indian defence allowed Sam Ward to take a reverse shot from a one-on-one situation with goalie PR Sreejesh, but it went wide.

India responded quickly, and it was Mandeep who had a glorious chance to score in the 41st minute, as he got a free hit just near the top of England 'D', but he missed the target. The full-capacity crowd of 21,000 thought India had taken the lead in the last minute of the third quarter, which was contested evenly after the ball landed into the English goal.

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Still, the umpire ruled that it had already hit an Indian leg. India was one man down in the last few minutes of the match, and England pressed for the winner but failed to breach the home team's defence. England got a PC at the last minute but wasted it.

Earlier during the day, in the other Group D tie at the same venue, Marc Reyna and Marc Miralles hit a brace each, with Spain outplaying Wales 5-1 to record its maiden triumph in the tournament. Reyna struck the board in the 16th and 38th minutes from field efforts, while Miralles netted in the 32nd and 56th minutes.

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Skipper Alvaro Iglesias (22nd) was the other goal-scorer for the conquering side. James Carson hammered Wales' lone goal in the 52nd. While Spain documented their opening win in the competition, it was Wales' second straight defeat. Spain had previously failed 0-2 to host India in its opener, while Wales was overthrown 0-5 by England. Spain will take on England in its final group game on January 19 in Bhubaneswar, while Wales faces India.

(With inputs from PTI)

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