The last time India squared up against South Africa, it was a hard-fought game although the ultimate 3-2 scoreline may not truly reflect the same. And on Saturday at the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, India slipped into ‘high intensity’ gear from the outset and did not allow South Africa to stay competitive.
Abhishek scored a fifth-minute goal via a nifty team effort and India really announced themselves their ‘intent’ when much-criticised skipper Harmanpreet Singh blasted a penalty corner past the defences of goalkeeper Gowan Jones. The 2-0 scoreline must have been a comforting feeling for India at half-time break.
India literally put the match beyond South Africa when Shamsher Singh scored in the dying moments of the third quarter. The hosts ensured there was no late drama from the African side as Akashdeep Singh firmly entrenched India’s position in the match.
There was some mild hopes ignited in the South African camp when Samkelo Mvimbi found the target almost immediatly after Akashdeep’s goal. India ran down the clock well and scored their fifth goal via Sukhjeet Singh. South Africa found some solace when Mustaphaa Cassiem converted a penalty stroke in the final minute.
India have maintained their winning run against South Africa, who last beat the Blueshirts 3-2 11 years back at the 2012 London Olympics. India finished 9th in the 15th World Cup alongside Argentina.