Commonwealth Games, Men’s Hockey: India thumps Canada 8-0, moves top of Pool B


The Indian men’s hockey team bettered its already impressive head-to-head record against Canada to 27-4, flooring it 8-0 in a Commonwealth Games Pool B encounter at the University of Birmingham. Manpreet Singh and Co., with seven points from three games, moved to the top of the group, and have one foot in the semifinals.

Vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh, having two of his previous efforts from a penalty corner blocked – one of those fearlessly so by an onrushing Brendan Guraliuk of Canada – slotted India home in the seventh minute to get it up and running.

A magical moment followed, three minutes later, as Varun Kumar set Amit Rohidas up with a pass for the ages from the right. Amit, trapping the ball at the edge of the circle, dribbled past a clueless Canadian defence, to extend India’s lead.

Varun responded promptly to cries of “ Buddha ho gaya hai tu, Varun (You have become an old man, Varun),” from goalkeeper PR Sreejesh on the sidelines to dash through the left flank and direct the ball into the circle in the 20th minute, following which, it was Lalit Upadhyay’s turn to get onto the scoresheet.

Taking advantage of a goalmouth squabble, the forward dragged one onto the target, only to be palmed homeward off the goalkeeper’s arm.

Gurjant Singh, suspended heavily for indiscipline in the previous game against England, gave Indian fans more reasons to smile on this occasion. In the 27th minute, he slid valiantly across the turf to tap a cross from Hardik Singh onto the goal.

At the halfway mark, India, ranked fifth in the world, led 4-0. The party, though, had just started.

In the 38th minute, Vivek Sagar Prasad opened up Canada’s defense from the right for Akashdeep Singh to hammer in a fifth. Harmanpreet moved to second on the individual scorers’ tally in CWG, behind England’s Nicholas Bandurak (7), with a sixth successful penalty corner in the 56th minute.

Mandeep and Akashdeep fired in the seventh and eighth goals respectively to complete the annihilation of a Canadian side, that looked largely clueless throughout. The only bright spot on a forgetful day for the John Smythe-led team was the individual performance from Guraliuk.

“It was important for us to score as many goals as possible after the draw against England (4-4) in the last outing. We missed quite a few chances today too. But we are happy with the result nevertheless. It is a good score,” India skipper Manpreet said after the game.

“There is no place for complacency. Our target is to score more, concede less and top the group.”

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