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Gritty India men's hockey team keep Belgium at bay

Gritty India mens hockey team keep Belgium at bay

Subhashish Majumdar

Published: 10 Feb 2020 5:16 AM GMT


may well have played a part in India’s victory over the World Champions in the

first match, but fortune favours the brave and notwithstanding a defeat to

Belgium in the second encounter of the Pro League, the Indians walked off the

Kalinga pitch with their heads held high.

The gritty 2-1 win in Match 1 was a sight to behold but the Indians kept Belgium at bay, on February 9, as well before going down 2-3 which speaks volumes about the tenacity of a team that looks quite capable now of making Pro League history.

Also Read: Indian Hockey Team climbs to the 4th spot in world rankings after beating Belgium

It was a moment to cherish for the Indian hockey team and their ardent fans, on February 8 evening, as Manpreet Singh and co. emerged victorious against the best hockey team in the world.

It’s one

thing to defeat a half-strength Belgian outfit as part of a tour as the Indians

did last year – but, quite another to outshine the marauding Red Lions fresh

from victories over Australia and New Zealand over the last couple of weeks.

While the

Belgians may argue that the ball meandered tantalizingly close the Indian goal

and may have crossed the line on another day, it wasn’t just fate that came

into play amidst the downpour at Kalinga.

Two Indian

custodians – a seasoned veteran and an upcoming star stretched, dived, leaned

and took many a body blow to ensure that the Indians ended up on the winning

side and moved up a slot in the world rankings at least for the time being.


has done it before while Krishan Pathak showed us why he is just the one who is

most capable of filling the stalwart’s shoes with some vital goalmouth saves.

Young Raj

Kumar Pal darted in and around the Belgian circle like an arrow surprising the

defence with his speed and guile which allowed the senior strikers to move up


The Indian

runners charged down the Belgian drag-flickers time and again as a result of

which the visitors were unable to convert 12 of the 13 PCs they earned, and the

end result could have been dramatically different if Shane McLeod’s team had

done better with the short corners.

On Sunday,

the Indians took the field as the World No. 4 side and the spring in their step

was evident even before the opening whistle sounded.


going down by an early goal, the Indians never allowed Belgium to dominate the

proceedings with Surender Kumar and Lalit Upadhyay giving us a glimpse of their

impeccable stick skills.


outstanding defensive work saved Belgium the blushes in Match 2 after the

Indians managed 28 circle entries and unleashed 11 shots on goal as compared to

the Belgians who engineered 19 circle entries and managed to fire 9 shots on



the stats were heavily loaded in Belgium’s favour in Match 1 but the result

went India’s way.

What was particularly

encouraging from India’s point of view was the manner in which the team fought

as a unit and attacked the opposition with a sense of purpose without being

cowed down for the entire duration of both matches.


Reid’s boys displayed without a shadow of a doubt that the wins against the

Dutch were no flash in the pan and that the team is clicking as a whole.

Whether by

accident or design, the Pro League schedule involves India playing the top

three teams in the world one after the other at home and a similar result

against Australia will do wonders for India’s campaign.


seems impossible, at the moment, for an aggressive and cohesive Indian squad

that seems intent on making an early impression ahead of a busy Pro League

season which precedes Tokyo 2020.

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