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Test No.5 Review: A deserving Series Win (10/19/2009)
--Subhash Joshi
The rain gods smiled on test #5 of the India-Canada series and Sunday afternoon was dry after showers and intermittent rain on Friday and Saturday. Adrian D'Souza took his turn as GK, Dharamvir Singh came in to the midfield, while Rajpal Singh donned the captain's armband. Vikram Pillay was hit hard in the face by a ball during warmups, but shook it off and played the game.

The game started off evenly with both Canada and India earning a PC apiece in the 4th and 6th minutes respectively. For Canada, Mark Pearson created the opportunity, but the indirect PC attempt by Rob Short was well anticipated by Adrian. For India, Gurvinder Singh Chandi was the instigator, but Sandeep Singh's flick went high.

In the 13th minute, Danish Mujtaba got the ball at the top of the circle, but couldn't time his reverse hit well. On the other side, Sandeep Singh did well to stop Taylor Curran on a breakaway in the 14th minute. But Canada was putting a lot of pressure on the Indian defence. In the 15th minute, Scott Sandison's shot was too far left, while in the 16th minute, Adrian had to stretch to save Scott Tupper's PC attempt.

Coach Brasa brought in Sardar Singh in the 18th minute and this appeared to tip the scales in favor of India. In the 20th minute, Sardar made a sharp pass to Vikram Pillay who got it to Rajpal who promptly earned a PC, but V. Raghunath's shot was saved by the Canadian GK Dave Carter. Md. Amir Khan made a couple of good moves on the left side in the 24th and 25th minutes. Sardar continued his good work with a bullet of a through pass to Tushar Khandker in the 28th minute who deftly deflected it into the circle but there was no one to receive it. In the 29th minute, Sardar brought up the ball himself and got it through to Prabhjot who made it to the circle and got off a strong shot. The GK couldn't control the rebound and Gurvinder Singh Chandi promptly put it into the net and gave India a 1-0 lead.

India kept up the pressure and Prabhjot got the ball to Gurvinder in the circle in the 32nd minute but the GK made the save. Gurvinder continued to be in the thick of the action and harassing the GK, first attacking after receiving the ball from Bharat Chikara who had made a deep run from the left side in the 33rd minute, and then earning a PC off a deep pass from V. Raghunath. The entire Indian team lined up for the PC as the horn had already signalled the end of the half, but they didn't have to do much as Sandeep Singh easily put the ball in the net to give India a 2-0 lead.

The second half started with India trying to continue where they left off in the first half while Canada was also pushing forward to get back into the game. In the 39th minute, the ball moved quickly from Vikram Pillay to Gurvinder to Prabhjot deep in the Canadian half. In the 40th minute, Mark Pearson was in position for a strong reverse hit but an Indian defender got a stick in position just in time to block his shot. In the 42nd minute, Connor Grimes passed to Mark Pearson whose shot was barely blocked by Adrian, and Dave Jameson was ecstatic after putting the rebound in the net for Canada to reduce the lead to 2-1.

Canada maintained the pressure and the crowd came up to its feet in the 44th minute when Ranjeev Deol stole the ball from Bharat Chikara in the Indian half, but Bharat got it right back. The 45th minute saw excessively physical play between Sarwanjit Singh and Scott Sandison as the former was trying to get the ball away from the Indian goal, and both players were yellow carded. Once again, Coach Brasa put Sardar Singh back in the game to help relieve the Canadian pressure. Dharamvir and Tushar put a nice move together down the left side in the 47th minute. Coach Brasa could be heard exhorting on his team from the sidelines.

The game went back and forth for a while after that. Bharat Chikara made a nice save in the 54th minute to snatch the ball from the Canadian forwards who were in dangerous position. Canada earned a PC in the 57th minute after a defender's miscue, but Scott Tupper's flick went wide right. Canada continued to press, sending 3 forwards deep into Indian territory to deny the Indian defenders space to pass, and also bringing strong pressure to bear when India had free hits in their own half. In the 66th minute, Rajpal attempted to release pressure with a long scoop down the right side of the field. Tushar Khandker took off after the ball with no Canadian defender back, and the Canadian GK came a long way from his circle to clear the ball, but hacked Tushar's stick in the process, thereby conceding a PC. Once again, Sandeep Singh was on the spot with a powerful, high flick and made the score 3-1 in the 67th minute to seal the issue.

Thereafter, Canada made some valiant attempts, and were particularly unlucky in the 68th minute when Connor Grimes inadvertently blocked a teammate's shot from entering the Indian goal. Mark Pearson earned yet another PC in the 70th minute with a fluid move into the circle off a pass from Gabbar Singh but Wayne Fernandes' low flick after the end-of-game horn was no good. With this win, India established a 4-0 lead with 2 matches still to go and therefore have won the 7-test series. india deserved it, it remains to be seen whether India will keep up the no-loss record.

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