Pro League: Harmanpreet Hat-Trick Powers India to 4-3 Win Over England

India was at the doorstep of victory until Sam Ward played a spoiler with a final-minute goal in the first leg tie on Saturday. The Blueshirts was determined to avoid last-minute hiccups on Sunday as they played a disciplined final quarter and effectively ran down the clock to snuff the challenge of England with a 4-3 win in the Pro League at Bhubaneshwar.

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It was England who asked questions to the Indian defence for most part of the first quarter. The Zak Jones-coached side was strong on the ball – the sleek passing play resulted in a short corner – Liam Sanford tapped home an indirectly taken penalty corner that was intelligently relayed to him by Sam Ward. For the second match on the trot, India had to the catching up after conceding the opening goal. India did not appear to be in the contest in the first quarter and was made to chase shadows until the Indian forwardline exuded some impetus towards the closing stages of the first quarter. The Blueshirts restored parity even as the first quarter hooter was blown, making the most of a penalty corner via former captain Manpreet Singh who slammed home a rebound after Harmanpreet Singh instead of taking a drag-flick, fed to Abhishek whose attempt was saved by England goalkeeper James Mazarelo.

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Vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh took the game away from England with two short corner conversions in a span of two minutes and in the process scored his 100th international goal – the fourth drag-flicker from India to achieve the feat after Sandeep Singh, Vokkaliga Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh. England needed a strong second half after trailing 1-3 at half-time. India kept them at bay for most part of the third quarter before Sam Ward fired home a short corner to keep England’s comeback hopes alive. The goal did not quite dent the morale of India, who continued to attack in waves and pressed home the advantage, once again Harmanpreet Singh ripping home a drag-flick to nail a superb hat-trick – his first hat-trick this year since the one scored against South Africa in India’s 10-2 win in Potchefstroom.

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Just had Harmanpreet celebrated his hat-trick with his team-mates, England struck again via Sam Ward off a penalty corner to ensure the final quarter was tantalisingly poised. But the Amit Rohidas-captained side did enough to ensure there was no nasty surprises in store. India are atop the standings with 21 points from 10 games, followed by Germany with 17 points from 8 games.