Tracking Indian men’s hockey team over last two years-Sports News , Novi Reporter

Monitoring Indian males’s hockey group over final two years-Sports activities Information , Novi Reporter

Novi charts the the Indian males’s hockey group’s fortunes during the last two years heading into Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Editor’s Notice:  For 5 years now, Indian athletes have been dreaming to make up for the frustration of a two-medal haul in Rio. The span has been extraordinary, with COVID-19 having thrown their preparations – and the Olympics itself – off gear. Nonetheless, in true Olympic spirit, the nation’s best sportspersons have battled type and uncertainty to place their greatest foot ahead in what guarantees to be a Video games like none different. In our newest sequence, we monitor the final two years’ performances of our athletes to provide you a prepared information to their type main into the most important sporting spectacle of the world.

Excessive at Olympic check occasion

Lacking senior gamers like captain Manpreet Singh, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Surender Kumar, the Indian males’s group headed to Japan to play within the Olympic Check Occasion in August 2019. The group, led by Harmanpreet Singh, began their marketing campaign with a dominant 6-0 win over Malaysia, however had been handed a 1-2 defeat by New Zealand within the subsequent sport. They bounced again with a 6-3 rout of hosts Japan to make it to the ultimate, the place they once more met New Zealand. This time round, India exacted revenge for the defeat within the round-robin stage by beating New Zealand 5-0 to win the Olympic Check Occasion.

Victorious Belgium tour

In September 2019, India headed to Antwerp the place they had been to play 5 matches towards World No 2 Belgium and World No 8 Spain. They received all 5 of their matches, beating Belgium 2-0, 2-1 and 5-1 and likewise brushed apart Spain with 6-1 and 5-1 margins of victory.

Sealing Tokyo 2020 spot

The boys’s group may have sealed their qualification for Tokyo 2020 on the 2018 Asian Video games in Jakarta. However that chance slipped out of their fingers after they may handle solely a bronze medal. One other window for them to e book their ticket for the Tokyo Olympics got here after they had been drawn towards World No 22 Russia in a two-legged Olympic qualifier in Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium.

The World No 5 group had been scientific within the qualifiers, beating Russia 4-2 within the first leg. Within the second leg, they’d a scare early on as Alexey Sobolevskiy scored with simply 25 seconds on the clock. The aim was a reminder to India that they may not afford to think about the Olympic quota as a foregone conclusion on the again of their two-goal victory margin from the primary leg. It was solely within the second quarter {that a} Lalit Upadhyay aim helped them stage the match and restore some semblance of normalcy within the proceedings. Indians quickly pumped in six extra targets into the Russian web, sealing their spot on the Olympics with a commanding 7-1 win.

Upsets over Netherlands

Collaborating within the FIH Professional League for the primary time, World No 5 India went up towards World No 3 Netherlands in a double-header on the Kalinga Stadium in January 2020. Within the first sport, the Indian group had a blistering begin, scoring the primary aim inside a minute after Gurjant Singh robbed the ball, handed it to Mandeep Singh and went on to attain for India’s quickest ever aim. There have been moments of dazzling wizardry from the Indians within the match, together with Rupinder Pal Singh contribution of two targets from penalty corners. Mandeep additionally scored a significant aim within the contest, turning and slotting it into the aim whereas surrounded by three Dutch gamers. Lalit Upadhyay rounded off the tally with a simple tap-in.

Within the second sport between the 2 sides, performed the subsequent day itself, India received after a tense penalty shootout. The Dutch had been 3-1 forward at one stage, however India fought again to stage the sport 3-3 to take the sport right into a shootout. Lalit Upadhyay scored India’s first on the day, inside a minute of the Dutch taking a 1-0 lead. India’s pleasure was short-lived, nevertheless, because the Netherlands took a 3-1 lead earlier than the second quarter had ended. Issues went from unhealthy to worse for India as captain Manpreet Singh was proven a inexperienced card, leading to India taking part in 10 minutes of the third quarter with simply 10 males. India managed to carry on to the two-goal deficit within the face of repeated Dutch assaults till Manpreet obtained again on the sector within the fourth quarter. With their numerical drawback worn out, India mounted a comeback with two targets, each coming off penalty corners. Within the first, Mandeep Singh scored off a rebound, whereas Rupinder Pal Singh shot his penalty nook strike straight down the center to stage the sport and take it right into a shootout.

As soon as the shootout started, India selected the grizzled PR Sreejesh to face in aim as an alternative of his younger understudy Krishan Pathak, who was in aim for the 2 video games. Sreejesh’s regular presence below the bar ensured the Dutch couldn’t rating off their first three makes an attempt. Vivek Prasad, Gurjant Singh, and Akashdeep Singh scored on the opposite finish to win India the competition.

Standing tall towards Belgium and Australia

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In February 2020 — proper on the again of the dual upsets over the Netherlands — India took on Belgium and Australia in two double-headers at Bhubaneswar.  

The Belgian group was ranked No 1 on this planet, had been on prime of the Professional League standings, and had been the reigning world champions. However Staff India, paying no heed to status, edged previous the Europeans with a 2-1 margin. In reality, India had been up simply 90 seconds into the sport with Mandeep Singh turning within the ball after some deft stickwork from Vivek Prasad and Dilpreet Singh. The sport noticed India’s keeper Krishan Pathak — the younger understudy of PR Sreejesh — pull off some unbelievable saves, notably within the first quarter. Each keepers had been on the prime of their sport to limit Belgium, who had 18 pictures (to India’s three), 27 circle penetrations (India had 14), and had eight penalty corners with a confirmed goal-poacher like Tom Boon of their ranks. The Belgians ultimately scored via Gauthier Boccard, however Ramandeep Singh’s opportunistic winner 13 minutes later sealed the deal for the Indians.

Within the subsequent day’s sport, it was Belgium that got here to the sector all weapons blazing. They took the lead with a penalty nook within the third minute itself. In these three minutes, Sreejesh had already pulled off a double-save, however Alexander Hendrickx’s PC flashed previous him. Some high quality stickwork from Surender Kumar and Vivek Prasad’s aim then levelled the scores, however not for lengthy as Nicolas De Kerpel gave Belgium the lead two minutes later. The Indians, nonetheless buzzing from their victory over the world champions a day earlier, had been in no temper to wave the white flag. Lower than 30 seconds after De Kerpel’s aim, Amit Rohidas, who had made very important saves as a primary runner within the first Belgium sport, scored after a wild scramble from a botched Indian penalty nook try.

The free-flowing sport’s decisive aim nevertheless got here within the second quarter itself, when Harmanpreet Singh’s stray go in his personal half was picked up by the Belgians. Maxime Plennevaux pushed the ball into the aim handy India a 3-2 defeat.

A couple of later, India met Australia on the identical venue for one more double-header. Australia went into half-time with a two-goal benefit, due to targets from Dylan Wotherspoon and Tom Wickham. Staring down the barrel, India pulled one aim again with Rajkumar Pal pushing the ball into the aim with the reverse-stick. It took simply 5 minutes earlier than Lachlan Sharp restored Australia’s two-goal benefit with an opportunistic aim whereas Jacob Anderson made it 4-1 a minute later. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, overhauling a three-goal deficit towards Australia would have seemed to be a seemingly insurmountable activity. However Graham Reid’s males confirmed simply why the highest groups of the world view India so cautiously. Rajkumar Pal scored his second aim firstly of This autumn whereas Rupinderpal Singh drove dwelling a penalty nook with 9 minutes left on the clock to arrange an intense race to the end with only one aim separating the 2 groups. Regardless of a number of probabilities, it simply wasn’t to be.

The second sport of the double-header a day later turned out to be equally enthralling. After a goalless Q1, Trent Mitton handed the guests the lead. Earlier than Australia may capitalise, India hit them with two targets, each coming off penalty corners, inside 4 minutes. The primary, scored by Rupinderpal Singh went straight between the Aussie keeper’s legs whereas Harmanpreet Singh’s PC flew into the left nook. Till that time, Australia had been wasteful with their PCs, changing none of their six probabilities. Australia had two targets disallowed on the evening after referrals, and noticed a penalty stroke thumped into the bar. Their wretched luck turned firstly of the fourth quarter when Aran Zalewski scored to push the sport right into a shootout. The shootout noticed its personal share of drama, after India keeper PR Sreejesh was twice pulled up for fouling the attacker—Daniel Beale first and Tim Model on the second try. Each events noticed Australia being awarded a stroke. Sreejesh guessed proper on every event, and obtained fortunate to see considered one of them — the stroke by Daniel Beale fly extensive. The Indian keeper then saved one other effort by Nathan Ephraums and hassled Jake Harvie sufficient that the Aussie couldn’t get his shot off the obligatory eight seconds. The shootout win gave India a bonus level.

New highs

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As uncertainty across the Tokyo Olympics was gathering steam, the lads’s group was resolutely rising in stature. Simply weeks earlier than the Olympics had been postponed by a yr, the males’s group climbed to the fourth spot within the rankings in March 2020, their highest place because the FIH world rankings had been launched in 2003.

The rise of the lads’s group was attributable to their performances within the first three rounds of the FIH Hockey Professional League.

Simply forward of them within the rankings had been world champions Belgium, Australia (2nd) and the Netherlands (third).

Struggle towards COVID-19

At the very least six gamers from the lads’s group examined optimistic for COVID-19 in August 2020. This included skipper Manpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Jaskaran Singh, Varun Kumar, Krishan Pathak and Mandeep Singh.

Coach Graham Reid mentioned in a webinar organised by Hockey India in September that every one the six gamers had shrug off the illness, and re-joined coaching.

Undefeated tour of Europe

The Indian males’s group put behind a yr affected by COVID-19 with a barnstorming tour of Europe in February-March. They performed Germany and Nice Britain twice every, and returned dwelling with out being defeated.

They began on a excessive, routing Germany 6-1 with Vivek Prasad scoring a brace and Nilakanta Sharma, Lalit Upadhyay, Akashdeep Singh and Harmanpreet Singh all chipping in with a aim apiece.

Their subsequent sport towards Germany resulted in a 1-1 draw, with Martin Haner’s aim cancelling out Jarmanpreet Singh’s strike early on.

They had been additionally held to a 1-1 draw by Nice Britain just a few days later at Antwerp, however ended the tour with a 3-2 victory over Nice Britain, a sport through which they scored as early as the primary minute and as late because the final minute.

Excessive-flying Argentina tour

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In April 2021, India performed reigning Olympic champions Argentina six instances in a span of 9 days. Two of those video games had been for the FIH Professional League, whereas the remaining 4 matches had been follow video games with an eye fixed on the deferred Tokyo Olympics.

Many of those video games had been high-scoring affairs with India setting the tone for the sequence with a 4-3 victory. The subsequent day, India had been held to a 4-4 attract a high-tempo affair at Buenos Aires. 

Once they met within the first conflict of the Professional League double-header, India appeared destined to lose 2-1 when — with simply 25 seconds on the clock — skipper Manpreet Singh drove into the Argentinian circle with a hazy run that hoodwinked at the very least 4 defenders and earned India a last-gasp penalty nook. Harmanpreet Singh’s PC was blocked however the ricochet fell kindly to him, and he transformed, establishing a shootout. India had been in bother within the shootout, with Harmanpreet lacking his shot whereas Lucas Martinez needing three pictures to place the ball into aim previous Sreejesh. The Indian keeper pressured Martin Ferreiro and Ignacio Ortiz to shoot extensive and blocked Lucas Vila’s shot regardless of falling after dropping his stability handy India the bonus level.

A day later, within the second match of the Professional League towards Argentina, India routed the hosts 3-0, with targets from Harmanpreet Singh and Lalit Upadhyay. However the spotlight of the sport was Mandeep Singh’s aim — India’s third — the place he tumbled in entrance of aim, however composed himself to faucet within the cross.

India misplaced their solely sport of the Argentina tour — by a 1-0 scoreline — the subsequent day, however bounced again the day after with a 4-2 rout to finish their go to to South America on a excessive.

Manpreet named skipper for Tokyo

India initially named 11 debutants in their 16-member squad for the Tokyo Olympics, which can be skippered by Manpreet Singh. PR Sreejesh was named as the only real keeper within the squad with Krishan Pathak being named among the many standbys.

However when IOC allowed two “alternate” members to be added to squads, India coach Reid selected to go together with defender Varun Kumar and midfielder Simranjeet Singh. (Regardless of the additions, solely 16 gamers will be capable of play in a match and the groups must submit their record a day earlier than their video games.)

India are grouped in Pool A together with reigning Olympic Champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan.

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