~Hardik Singh (13') and Captain Harmanpreet Singh (58') scored a goal each in regulation time, while PR Sreejesh made stunning saves in the shootout~
Bhubaneswar, 11th February 2024: Ace goalkeeper PR Sreejesh's heroics in the shootout saw India pull off a thrilling 4-2 shootout win against the defending Champions the Netherlands in their second match of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium on Sunday.
Sreejesh made two stunning saves in the shootout, while Harmanpreet Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Shamsher Singh converted their chances to help India bag a bonus point.
Hardik Singh (13') and Harmanpreet Singh (58') scored a goal each for India, while Jip Janssen (30') and Koen Bijen (39') got on the scoresheet for the Dutch in what was a thrilling 2-2 draw in regulation time.
The World No. 1 team was quick to get off the blocks and made attacking runs inside India's circle in the opening minutes of the game. They took various shots on target, but Indian goalie Krishan B Pathak stood tall to deny the Dutch from taking the early lead.
India, on the other hand, took some time to settle in. Their first real chance came in the 12th minute, when they won back-to-back penalty corners, but couldn't capitalise on it.
In the following minute, India broke the deadlock through Hardik from an open play. The midfielder made a stunning run down the right flank before playing it to Sukhjeet, who passed it back to Hardik. Hardik then skilfully slotted the ball into the net from an acute angle, giving India a 1-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
India started the second quarter brightly and enjoyed the ball possession, but couldn't create much of a danger. They yet again earned back-to-back penalty corners but the Dutch denied the hosts from doubling the lead.
The visitors earned their first penalty corner in the 25th minute but missed out on converting it. However, they continued with the same attacking intent and were rewarded with yet another penalty corner in the dying seconds of the first half. Janssen made no mistake as he hammered the ball into the bottom corner, making it 1-1 at the half-time.
It was a cagey start to the second half, with both teams cautiously controlling the ball in the midfield and not giving away much space. However, the latter phase of the third quarter saw the Netherlands drawing a soft penalty corner. Pathak saved Jasper Brinkman's drag-flick, but Bijen was at the right place, at the right time, to slot the ball home on the rebound, putting the Dutch 2-1 in the 39th minute.
With less than 30 seconds to go in the third quarter, the Netherlands had yet another penalty corner, but India survived the danger.
A thrilling start to the final quarter saw both teams creating goalscoring opportunities. While the Dutch missed out on converting their penalty corners, India kept missing the target in the striking circle.
India mounted relentless pressure on the Dutch and were presented with back-to-back penalty corners in the 55th minute, but couldn't avail the opportunities.
With less than three minutes to go for the final hooter, India removed their goalkeeper to put an extra outfield player. They then took a video referral for a deliberate push from the Dutch defender and were rewarded with a penalty corner. Harmanpreet, playing his 200th match, stepped up and slotted the ball home to bring things back on level terms.
Sreejesh, who was called back into the field, made some scintillating saves in the dying seconds as the Dutch gave their all, but couldn't find a goal, ending the regulation time in a 2-2 stalemate.
India will take on Australia in their third match on Thursday, 15th February at 1930 hrs IST.
All matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 will be streamed on JioCinema, additionally, all India matches will be telecast on Sports18 - Khel.
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