India make dream start to FIH Hockey Pro League with thrilling victory over the Netherlands
FIH Hockey Pro League debutants India made a dream start to the 2020 competition, powering to a superb 5-2 victory against the Netherlands men in a breathtaking encounter at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
The fifth-ranked hosts needed just 28 seconds to open the scoring against the third-ranked Dutch, with Gurjant Singh firing home in clinical fashion after a neat exchange of passes with Mandeep Singh. That advantage was doubled in the 12th minute thanks to Rupinder Singh’s deflected penalty corner drag-flick, before Jip Janssen halved the deficit with a penalty corner of his own as the end of the first quarter approached.
The Netherlands dominated the second quarter and pulled level through Jeroen Hertzberger’s close-range finish, but after half time it was all India, with Mandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay moving the score to 4-2 before Rupinder Singh netted again early in the fourth quarter to complete a comprehensive victory for the home favourites.
Speaking after the match, India goal scorer Lalit Upadhyay, who was named Player of the Match, said: “I want to say thank you to the crowd who came to cheer. There was some good work done by the forward lines. We have been doing a lot of hard work in the training sessions, so all credit goes to my team-mates and the coaches.”
Reflecting on his team’s defeat, Netherlands captain Billy Bakker said: “I think we have to focus on our own game. We played one quarter from the four quarters pretty good, the other three we didn’t get the level that we wanted to get. With a team like India, it’s really tough to win here, so I think they deserved it today.”
Complete information on the match can be found on the live reporting page by clicking here.
India and the Netherlands will return to the field at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium on Sunday for match two of the double header in Bhubaneswar. To see the complete match schedule, click here.
FIH Hockey Pro League result – 18 January 2020
Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)
Result: Men’s Match 1
India 5, Netherlands 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Player of the Match: Lalit Upadhyay (IND)
Umpires: Gareth Greenfield (NZL), Rawi Anbananthan (MAS) and Sean Rapaport (RSA – video)