After being the table-toppers in the group stage, the Indian hockey team continued their winning spree as they outclassed Japan in the semi-final of the FIH Series on Friday, June 14.
Japan’s Kenji Kitazato scored a field goal in the second minute to give a lead to the away team as the hosts were stunned by the initial onslaught.
Harmanpreet Singh, in his 100th appearance for Team India, scored the equaliser in the seventh minute as he converted a penalty corner. Within a few minutes, the scoreline was 2-1 in India’s favour as Varun Kumar scored a penalty corner in the 14th minute.
Kota Watanabe equalised for Japan in the 20th minute with another field goal but their happiness was short-lived as Indians counter-attacked with quick goals in succession.
Ramandeep Singh (23’) and Hardik Singh (25’) scored a field goal each that added pressure on the away team as they were now trailing by two goals. India was leading 4-2 at half-time. Ramandeep scored yet again, this time through a penalty corner, as India secured a lead of three goals in the 37th minute.
There was some brilliance on the field as 20-year-old Gursahibjit Singh scored a field goal in the 43rd minute thanks to an accurate pass from midfielder Nilakanta Sharma.
A reverse flick from Vivek Prasad was the final nail in the coffin as he scored the seventh goal for India in the 47th minute. India won the game comprehensively as the scoreboard was 7-2 when the final hooter was blown.
In the group stages, India conceded only one goal against Poland as they maintained their 100 per cent win record. India beat Russia 10-0 in the first encounter which was followed by a 3-1 win against Poland and then a 10-0 victory against Uzbekistan.
In the second semi-final between South Africa and the United States of America, the former beat the latter 2-1 to make it to the finals.
India will now be up against South Africa in the finals on June 15 at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. A win in the finals will certainly boost India's chances of securing a birth in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Wasn’t and still isn’t certain about anything except that cricket is his first love. If he is not talking or writing about sports then he must be travelling. These two things help in restoring sanity in this insane world.