Team India were clearly under pressure as they faced Wales in their last Pool ‘D’ World Cup match at the Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday, winning 4-2 eventually.
After England beat Spain 4-0 earlier in the day to top the pool with a goal difference of +7 over India, the hosts needed to beat Wales 8-0 to top the group and earn a direct qualification for the quarter-finals.
It was always going to be a tough ask and that was only compounded by the fact that India captain and drag flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh continued to disappoint in the penalty corner department. The India skipper did score off a last-minute penalty corner drag-flick, but the Wales outfit were without their goalkeeper at the time.
Shamsher scores opener
Shamsher Singh (21st minute) got India’s opening goal after Harmanpreet’s penalty corner drag flick was defended well by the Welsh. The rebound was picked up by Shamsher outside the circle before he entered and hammered home for 1-0. Akashdeep Singh then made it 2-0 for the hosts (32nd min). Wales, however, fought back and scored twice within a span of two minutes. Garther Furlong first beat India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh off a penalty corner drag flick in the 42nd minute. Two minutes later, Jacob Draper made it 2-2 off a penalty corner rebound. Akashdeep restored India’s lead a minute later off a fine reverse hit. Harmanpreet finally got his name onto the scoresheet when he drag flicked the ball into the Wales goal which was without a goalkeeper. Having finished second in the pool, India will now face New Zealand (the 3rd placed team in Pool C) in a Crossover clash and the winner here will face reigning World and Olympic champions Belgium in the quarter-finals thereafter.
Also Read: Hockey World Cup 2023: `Harmanpreet will have to step up and play a perfect match`, says Dilip Tirkey
England top Pool ‘D’
Earlier in the day, England romped to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Spain to confirm their quarter-final berth as pool toppers. Roper Hill opened the scoring for the Englishmen in the 10th minute off a penalty corner before David Condon made it 2-0 off a fine field goal (21st minute). The English players continued the offensive and Nicholas Bandukar netted another field goal (50th min) to increase the lead to 3-0. A minute later, Liam Ansell made it 4-0 to establish England’s supremacy over Spain and Pool ‘D’.
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