Brilliant goalkeeping by experienced PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak helped Indian men’s hockey team beat world champions Belgium 2-1 in the FIH Hockey Pro League at the Kalinga Stadium.
The win, India’s third in a row on the home turf in the Pro League, meant they are now placed second on the table with eight points from three matches. The victory helped the home side to improve their world ranking and move up by a place to be ranked fourth, first for the eight-time Olympic champions since the raking system was introduced in 2003. It was also their 50th win against the European side.
Despite the loss, Belgium remain at the top with 11 points from five matches. The European champions got as many as 13 penalty corners while the hosts were rewarded with five short corners. Both though managed to convert only one of those chances into a goal. Earlier, Graham Reid’s team was quick to get off the blocks with debutant Raj Kumar Pal setting up a fantastic goal within 90 seconds of play as he passed from the left flank to Dilpreet Singh on top of the circle. Young forward Dilpreet, making his comeback after over a year, took a powerful shot on goal which found a perfect deflection from Mandeep Singh, who was positioned in front of Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
After conceding an early goal, Belgium launched counter-attacks, creating numerous scoring opportunities including five penalty corners but goalkeeper Krishan Pathak ensured the hosts ended the first quarter leading 1-0.The equaliser, which the visitors were looking for, eventually came in the third quarter when Gauthier Boccard converted a penalty corner in the 33rd minute levelling the score. Experienced striker Ramandeep Singh slammed home the winner in the fourth and final quarter when he picked up a rebound off Belgium’s first rusher to sound the board. Pathak was adjudged Player of the Match.
This article was originally published in NewIndianExpress.com