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Hockey World Cup: India left frustrated despite 4-2 win over Wales; finish second in Pool D

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England are directly through to the quarterfinal, while India will have to win their crossover match to reach the last 8.

India defeated Wales 4-2 in their final Pool D encounter at the Hockey World Cup, but were unable to top their group, with England topping the charts on goal-difference. Akashdeep Singh grabbed a brace for India, with Harmanpreet Singh and Shamsher Singh finding the net for the hosts. India finished second in Pool D, thus setting up a crossover match-up against New Zealand on the 22nd of January.

Earlier, England beat Spain by a 4-0 margin, which ramped up the pressure on India – with the hosts now needing to defeat Wales by an eight-goal margin to top Pool D.

Consequently, India began the game in an attacking manner, with Akashdeep Singh forcing a save in the first minute. However, Wales, clad in all-black, held their own – denying India from making any clear-cut chances in the initial minutes. As the first quarter progressed, India got closer to making a breakthrough, with Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh forcing Toby Reynolds-Cotterill into a couple of saves.

Wales held on to ensure the first quarter ended goalless, but India had a great opportunity to open the scoring a minute into the second quarter, with Abhishek earning a penalty corner. However, Harmanpreet Singh spurned the opportunity, barely able to get any power into his drag-flick, as India’s frustrations grew.

The breakthrough did eventually arrive in the 21st minute, after Mandeep earned India’s second penalty corner. Harmanpreet’s drag-flick was blocked, but the ball deflected to Shamsher Singh on the edge of the circle, who took a couple of steps forward and rifled a shot, low into the goal with the Welsh goalkeeper leaving his near post free. India did pile on as the half progressed, but as coach Graham Reid noted during half-time, most of the play was ‘rushed’ and India need to be patient to score, going into the break with a 1-0 lead.

Wales started the second half by spurning a PC, and India made them pay minutes later, as Akashdeep and Mandeep played a clever 1-2 with the former then driving a low strike into the bottom right corner, doubling India’s lead. The host’s anxiety resulted in more rushed play, especially in penalty corners, with Amit Rohidas wasting another opportunity.

Wales proceeded to effectively end India’s hopes of topping Pool D in a couple of minutes, first scoring via Gareth Furlong’s accurate penalty corner, before Jacob Draper stunned the crowd in Bhubaneswar into silence by equalizing in the 44th minute. India regained the lead as soon as the last quarter began – Akashdeep exchanging passes with Sukhjeet to enter the circle before a drilled reverse hit into the goal.

The crowd came alive once more, but Reynolds-Cotterill continued to deny India. It needed the Welsh goalkeeper to be off the turf for India to score, with Harmanpreet slamming home a penalty corner in the final minute with Reynolds Cotterill watching on the sidelines.

The final hooter confirmed the win for India, but there was an air of disappointment given India were unable to put Wales to the sword, as expected – thus settling for second place in Pool D.