India start Pro League campaign with 5-2 win over Netherlands
India got their debut Pro League campaign off to a winning start with a 5-2 win over world no. 3 Netherlands. In what is the first of two matches that will be played between the two sides at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar, India rode on goals from Gurjant Singh (1'), Rupinder Pal Singh (12', 46'), Mandeep Singh (34') and Lalit Upadhyay (36'). Jip Janssen (14') and Jeroen Hertzberger (28') scored for the Dutch.
Both sides scored in a frantic first quarter of the match. India scored their first within 26 seconds of the start of the match through Gurjant Singh at the end of an attack launched through the left after a Dutch pass was intercepted in midfield. In the 11th minute Rupinder Pal Singh doubled the lead with a well-worked penalty corner.
The visitors got their first penalty corner immediately after and Jip Janssen converted it to make 2-1 which was the final goal of the quarter.
Eight minutes into the second quarter, the Netherlands launched an attack from the left flank which India could not see off. Jeroen Hertzberger managed to draw the visitors equal with a simple tap-in at the end of it. At half-time, both sides were level 2-2.
Netherlands could not keep up the momentum in the second half in which India came out swinging. Mandeep duly restored the hosts' lead with a brilliant shot on the turn in the 34th minute. Two minutes later, Harmanpreet Singh cut in from the left and pushed the ball into the circle after dribbling past a Dutch defender. Upadhyay deflected the ball into goal and India were leading by two goals once again.
Two minutes later, Mandeep almost scored his second of the night which was blocked by the Dutch. India went for a referral and got a penalty corner which they could not convert. Netherlands then got a hat-trick of penalty corners but could not convert any of them and the score at the end of the third quarter was 4-2 in India's favour.
The hosts got a penalty corner early in the final quarter through a referral and this time, Rupinder managed to find his second goal of the night. Apart from a failed penalty corner, there was very little for the Dutch in the match after that and the final score read 5-2 in the hosts' favour.
The second match will now be played at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Kalinga Stadium.IANS