Sunday, June 16, 2024
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India start Champions League hockey campaign with win

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Melbourne: India made a bright start to their campaign at the Champions Trophy hockey tournament with a come-from-behind 3-1 win over England in Pool A at the State Hockey Centre here on Saturday.

The new-look Indian team clinched a morale-boosting win through field goals from Danish Mujtaba (22nd minute) and Yuvraj Walmiki (38th) before Gurwinder Singh Chandi scored in a set-piece penalty corner (66th minute).

Earlier, the India defence was breached by a drag flick from Richard Smith on England’s maiden penalty corner in the 14th minute.

Playing the first major international event after their disastrous last-place finish in the London Olympics, where they finished in last place, India have come to the elite eight-nation Champions Trophy with a new-look team after dropping several ageing stars.

England have brought a young, experimental team here after several regular players took a break following the Olympics, where Great Britain finished fourth.

Many seasoned players in the England line-up went back to their full-time jobs or universities and left the places open for young players to be inducted for this tournament.

India will take on New Zealand on Sunday in their second outing in Pool A, which also features Olympic gold medallists Germany.

England could have gone two goals up in the 21st minute when an opportunistic deflection by David Condon on a long through ball went across the goal mouth.

Mujtaba put India back on par by deflecting a long diagonal ball into the goal after lunging forward to beat his marker and also managed to put the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.

Walmiki made the most of a diagonal ball from Sunil as he managed to get an opportunistic touch past goalkeeper George Pinner three minutes into the second session.

Germany edged past New Zealand 3-2 in the other Pool A match on Saturday.

In other matches, hosts Australia began their hunt for a fifth successive Champions Trophy title by spiking debutant Belgium’s challenge 4-2 in a Pool A match.

Earlier, Olympic Games silver medallists Netherlands launched the tournament with a 3-1 victory from behind over Pakistan, who stunned the Dutch defence midway in the first session to open the scoring. (PTI)

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