Five-time champions India and Great Britain got off to their campaign in the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Men’s International Hockey ournament with a 2-2 draw here today.
The India-Great Britain blockbuster match was earlier delayed for two hours due to thunderstorm which has been a norm in this city over the last two weeks. The last time both nations met was at the 36th FIH Champions Trophy in London last year which India won 2-1.
After a drab start, it was Great Britain who made the first move in the Indian defence. Henry Weir’s reverse stick shot in the 10th minute was stopped by goalkeeper P. Sreejesh. However, in a quick Indian counter attack, the Britons drew deep into defence after a superb pass from Akashdeep Singh to Sunil Sowmarpet had them in trouble but fortunately for the Britons, Sunil failed to make a neat stop with only goalkeeper Harry Gibson in his way.
India upped the ante in the second quarter and earned the first penalty corner of the match in the 20th minute. Akashdeep made no mistake this time by pushing the ball past Gibson from a rebound after Manpreet Singh’s hit from outside the penalty box was padded away. India takes the lead.
But the Britons, ranked 7th in the FIH World Rankings, were less that perturbed with the early Indian goal and went on the offensive in search of the equaliser. Willars Ollie weaved his way past two defenders near the left goal line and relayed the ball to Tom Carson who blasted the ball past Sreejesh to level 1-1.
The Indians went 2-1 ahead in the 47th minute when Manpreet Singh drilled his way into the D, relays the ball to Sunil who in turn lifts the ball to Mandeep Singh who had no trouble placing it into the goal mouth. However, the joy in the Indian camp was short-lived as Great Britain rode back on track four minutes later through an Alan Forsyth open goal.
India, placed 6th in the world, aim to start the new season on a comfortable note by claiming the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup for the sixth time - precisely seven year after their last triumph here in 2010.