Manpreet Singh Drove India to Its Victory

The mesmerizing player of Indian Hockey team left every spectator spell bound with his fantastic game against Pakistan on Saturday.

Captain Manpreet Singh covered a little more than 50 yards and beat seven Pakistani players to score a breathtaking solo goal that triggered India’s comeback in the round-robin match of the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat.

Muhammad Irfan Junior had given Pakistan a surprise lead in the first minute and it stayed like that at the end of the first quarter. India created scoring opportunities in the second period but weren’t able to restore parity until Manpreet took the matter in his own hands.

The centre-half received a pass just inside India’s half, and embarked on a mazy run, with Pakistan forward Ali Shan shadowing him closely. Manpreet snaked past Shan, and three other Pakistani players to enter their ‘D’, where he was given just enough space to take a shot at goal. Manpreet opted for placement over power as he pushed the ball from the top of the ‘D’ beyond the reach of goalkeeper Imran Butt.

If Manpreet’s goal was all about skill, forward Mandeep Singh showed incredible presence of mind to give India the lead in the 31st minute. A turnover in the 31st minute saw Akashdeep Singh make a defence-splitting run into the striking circle and pass the ball to fellow striker Mandeep, who had his back towards Pakistani goal but flicked the ball between his own legs to give Pakistani goalkeeper no chance.India had a good third quarter as they denied their arch-rivals in making too many circle entries and then extended their lead to two-goals when Dilpreet Singh scored his fourth of the tournament to put India 3-1 ahead.

The crucial goal came in the 42nd minute from a quick counter-attack which was led by Akashdeep, who raced past Pakistani midfielders and then found Lalit Upadhyay on the right flank. Lalit then moved forward towards the baseline and struck a hard low shot towards goal, which was padded by Imran Butt into the path of Dilpreet, who calmly slotted home.

Young goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, who replaced Sreejesh, playing his 200th game, made a good interception in the last few minutes to help India maintain their strong hold on the match.

India’s chief coach Harendra Singh was proud of the way the team staged a comeback against Pakistan but he wants the strikers to sharpen up their finishing inside the opposition circle. “I am proud of the manner in which the team staged a comeback. They deserve full credit, but I remain concerned with our finishing,” said Harendra. “We missed a few chances. We are taking too much time to make decisions. That’s where we need to sharpen up.”India captain Manpreet said the team needs to work upon its grey areas. “Despite playing a good match, there are many things we need to do. We need to avoid giving away easy chances,” said Manpreet.

Former India Captain Sardar Singh decided to Retire from International Games

Sardar Singh who was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna last year is likely to announce his retirement from internationals later this week after a disappointing performance at Asian Games 2018.

India bagged third position in the Asians after losing the semifinal to Malaysia which provoked harsh criticism from the officials targeted towards Singh, because of his being the senior most player in the team.

This constant questioning of Singh’s capabilities might have prompted his decision to quit Internationals.

Though nothing has been disclosed yet by Singh in this front but the National coach Harendra Singh confirmed he had spoken to Sardar about the decision.

Showing his disappointment over Singh’s decision, Harendra Singh said that he has been a legend of the game both at national and international level.

Sardar had been dropped for the Commonwealth Games earlier this year with Hockey India favouring youngsters but fought his way back into the side for the Champions Trophy, where India won a second successive silver, and the Asian Games.

With India hosting the World Cup at the end of this year and the road ahead to Tokyo Olympics long and winded with a complex qualification process, Sardar’s experience would have been handy for the team. As such, Indian hockey will now have to do without it.