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2018 World Cup News
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India out of reckoning after narrow QF loss (12/13/2018)
--s2h Team
India lacked that bit of energy and enterprise that can give victory in cliff-hanger contests. It was clearly pronounced today in the do-or-die quarterfinal, especially in the fourth quarter. A desperate tackle on the left edge of the circle by Chinglensana was a penalty corner gift to the marauding but unsuccessful Netherlands. Later, Indian coach Harendera Singh termed the award of PC too harsh.

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They did not waste the godsend opportunity. Their task of taking the lead again was made easy when Nilakanta Sharma, who assumes post man role in penalty corner defence, did the disaster of a surge out of the cage seconds before the ball was pushed. He was promptly sent out.

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India's penalty corner defence was handicapped as it now had to be three instead of usual four, to prevent any damage. The 1-1 deadlock that existed for the last two quarters, 35 minutes to be specific, came to an end. It ended in favour of the famed rival, ending Indian dreams. Mink van der Weerden, who was out of form, found his touch. His grounder was so pacy that it skipped past the extended right leg of goalie PR Sreejesh (2-1) to crash into the backboard. Exactly ten minutes were left in the clock since Weerden's goal, but the gap could not be narrowed by India despite playing best part of their hockey.

India used kicking-back in Harmanpreet Singh in the last four minutes in which spell it made two good moves and also got a penalty corner to bring parity on scoreboard. But the Dutch won't buckle.

India is out of the World Cup. India have never won The Netherlands in any World Cup, and the sad saga continues. For the resolute Indian hockey fans, 43 years wait for semi-final did not end. They have to wait another four year!

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India took the lead when Akashdeep Singh scooped a short rebound from Netherlands goalkeeper to put India ahead in the 12th minute to electrify the already charged huge crowd. Undaunted, their rivals pressed hard thereafter and got their dividends with a freehit deflection when just two seconds left for the first quarter break.

(Pic: Rakesh)

This equalizer from Thierry Brinkmann survived umpire's self referral, and when the goal was sustained, the news was received with dead silence in the at the packed stands. India could not keep their lead in the first quarter.

Second quarter was not subdued, it was action packed though the scoreboard remained static. Netherlands

At Halftime the score stood 1-1. India created a wonderful opportunity in the 33rd minute to go up.

Akashdeep Singh was the culprit to let go the gilt-edged chance. Harmanpreet Singh sent a lighetening slap shot into the circle from his 25-yard zone, that landed in the rival circle, where Akashdeep Singh was stationed. He had to beat only goalkeeper to put India on the driver's seat. Pirmin Blaak (gk) was seen rushing towards him, Akash had time and space, wast near the top edge, but shot his reverse high, could not get it low towards empty goal.

Agonious moments in deed.

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Moments later, India conceded an easy penalty corner, its defenders doing the worst way of defending when cornered in the circle - deliberate pushing of the ball out of play from backline. It resulted in two successive penalty corners, but no damage was done. Captain Manpreet Singh did some quick charging, while Surender Kumar was at his best when follow through actions of the Dutch threatened menacingly, time and again.

The third penalty corner that was awarded in sequence was meanwhile managed with a clever referral from India. After sruving the ordeal, India got breathing space.

Reenergized, India pressed hard, created an opportunity to go up, when Lalit Upadhyay sent a perfect cross into the circle only to see Dilpreet Singh diving but not connecting the ball.

Such missings are a galore in the fourth qurter too.

Simranjeet Singh, easily the only fresh leg player who justified his selection, spilit the Dutch defence to send a minus from right backline, but both Lalit and Akashdeep were so well marked individually, they could not bring in that exatrordinary to deflect the ball that crossed in front of them against the open goal.

Two minutes later, the winning goal conceded.

India brought in Harmanpreet Singh four before the full time, which helped India wage grim battle to gain back the lost ground. India conceded a penalty corner and also generated one for it, both did not bring goals on board.

The last four minutes were tense, each move of India getting thump up from more than capacity crowd.

This is how the lone Asian team in the reckoning has ended. Three European teams and Australia will now fight it for medals. Friday is rest day

Belgium and England semifinal will be followed by Netherlands and Australia on Saturday.

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