India down Ireland but end up 5th: Sultan Azlan Shah hockey

By | March 10, 2018

Shilanand Lakra celebrates goal with Ramandeep Singh as India beats Ireland to finish 5th 10mar2018 at Ipoh. A HI image

Ipoh (Malaysia), 10 March 2018: A second string Indian hockey team beat Ireland 4-1 but their loss to the same outfit on Friday ruined their chances of fighting for a medal at the27th Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament here on Saturday. India finished 5th behind hosts Malaysia who lost to Argentina in the bronze medal match. Australia and England will later play for the Cup.

The result notwithstanding the Coach’s strategy seems to have been good with Commonwealth Games and Asian Games packed in the high-profile year. Though many gray areas are still to be ironed out the players seem to be getting ready for the high-performance roles with a greater player base assisting the overall strategy and keeping the seniors from becoming complacent.
Coming back to the match, young Varun Kumar struck twice in the 5 and  32 minutes, once through a well-powered drag flick to the top right-hand corner, while another fresh face Shilanand Lakra (28’) appeared to be the find of the tournament from the younger lot. Gurjant Singh  scored in the 37th minute, and ensured India finished with a win. Meanwhile, Ireland’s lone goal was scored by Julian Dale (48’).
India began with strong attack early on that helped them win back-to-back PC’s in the 5th minute. It was an infringement on Ireland’s part when Simranjeet Singh was attempting a shot on goal that resulted in the PC. Though the first attempt was saved, a tussle for the ball in the circle resulted in another PC. This time Varun Kumar found success, ensuring India got off to a good start with 1-0 lead.
The second quarter saw India up their energy and constantly attacked the Irish circle. They dominated with ball possession and attempted four shots on goal. One such attempt saw Nilam Sanjeep Xess’s fierce pass from right side of the circle to find forward Shilanand Lakra poised in front of the goal. The young lad from Sundargarh, Odisha ensured he didn’t miss out on the opportunity as he beat Ireland’s goalkeeper Jamie Carr doubling India’s lead to 2-0.
India began the third quarter with a PC in the 32nd minute. It was midfielder Sumit who was in the middle of all the action, trying to make a baseline entry into the circle when the Irish defender was caught making an infringement. Varun Kumar seemed to have found his mojo in this match as he pumped a brilliantly struck dragflick past Carr to take India’s lead to a comfortable 3-0. India’s next goal came off Gurjant Singh in the 37th minute. It was brilliant play by Talwinder Singh who received a good pass from Simranjeet Singh and later connected it to Gurjant who made no mistake in putting it into the post. This effort took India’s lead to a formidable 4-0.
Though India conceded a goal in the 48th minute, the team’s defence remained resolute through the match restricting the number of circle entries Ireland made to 18 and denied them potential shots on goal. Though India earned a PC in the 50th minute and another one towards the dying minutes of the match, they couldn’t convert but ensured they kept the lead to win.
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