London : India put up an impressive first-half display to dismantle Canada 3-0 for their second consecutive victory in the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi Final Pool B here on Saturday.
All of India’s goals came from field play as they sent a warning to their Sunday’s opponent Pakistan, who were blanked 0-6 by Canada on Friday.
India opened the game at break-neck speed and took just five minutes to break the deadlock when S.V. Sunil rolled the ball from the right only to see the ball moved in after hitting the far post.
Canada found the going tough against the Indians. The 2014 Asian Games champions didn’t allow the Canadians to play the long balls and deep aerial balls that they did with great effect against Pakistan as India pressed high and intercepted the long balls really well.
A successful deflection from Akashdeep Singh, who shrugged off goalkeeper David Carter, five minutes later gave India a 2-0 lead.
India further controlled the game and took a 3-0 lead as a soft turnover in the midfield allowed India to launch a fierce counter-attack in the 18th minute. Ramandeep Singh and Sardar Singh combined well to charge into the rival circle. Ramandeep passed to Sardar who held off a defender and the goalkeeper to slip the ball in.
Late in the second quarter, Canada got a chance to pull one back. Following a cross from the left, Foris Van Son, stationed in front of an almost empty Indian goal-post, trapped the ball but sent it wide, not providing any danger to Indian goalkeeper Akash Chikte.
With a 3-0 lead at half-time, India dropped their intensity but Canada didn’t make the most of it. Canada, however, with a better structured midfield, managed to minimise the Indian forays into their circle.
India, though got their chances, three of them in the form of penalty corners in the third quarter. But the flicks from Harmanpreet Singh and Jasjit Kular were not powerful and accurate enough to beat custodian Carter.
The match never went out of India’s grip and they continued to torment Canada. The Indian players had some good chances to score a few solo goals, especially for Mandeep Singh, to extend the domination.
India head coach Roelant Oltmans said: “In the first half, we played really well. In the second half we were a bit unlucky. We could have scored more but their goalkeeper did well to stop us.”
India will meet arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday. Captain Manpreet Singh said that they will treat the game as any other. “It is an important game. We are not under pressure. We will treat the match as important as any other match,” Manpreet said after the match against Canada.