India rally to beat Scotland 4-1 in HWL semi-finals
Twelve minutes is all that India, ranked sixth, needed to indicate the gap between them and the 23rd-ranked Scotland at the Hero Hockey World League semi-final on Thursday.
The Indians scored all their four goals in that period, but what was somewhat worrisome, at least for sometime, was that those dozen goal-scoring minutes came in the third quarter, at which point India trailed by an early sixth minute strike by the Scottish captain, Chris Grassick.
India's 4-1 gave them a winning start that should brought a smile on the coach Roelant Oltmans' face and boosted the morale of many of the youngsters in the side. Trailing 0-1, India found their rhythm within a minute of the second half starting.
Ramandeep's reverse hit from the top of the circle brought in the equaliser. Then a move from SV Sunil got Ramandeep and India their second goal three minutes after the first. That put India 2-1 up.
New skipper Manpreet Singh set up Akashdeep, who deflected it past the Scottish custodian in the 40th and two minutes later, India won their first and only penalty corner. Young dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh duly converted it with a hit to the top corner of the goal. Talking of the Scottish goal, Oltmans said: "It came out of nothing.
It was a long ball and the defenders did not defend as they should have; they showed a reluctance to go for the Scottish forwards. It was a good assist and they (Scots) hit it straight into the corner. But I was not worried. I have never been afraid in this game, there were still 54 minutes."
On Vikas Dahiya starting the game, Oltmans said, "He will play in every match. No doubt about that. It is important to give them experience. India has one opportunity to save a goal and they didn't and it was not his (Dahiya) mistake."
He said: "It took a little while to open the Scottish Wall and we were not able to do that in the first 30 minutes. They were hurrying themselves."
He added: "I told (at half time) them a few things and they understood the message. I am not aggressive, from my point of view, the key is to improve and I asked them to change a few things and they did." Jasjit Singh Kular and Sumit, who flew only this morning also got a chance. On the fact there were no more goals except in the third quarter, Oltmans said: "In the last quarter, we could have gone for five or six, but India have to back-to-back matches after this. I also wanted to give Jasjit and Sumit a chance. So, maybe all that had an effect."