Defending champions Great Britain and India settled for a 5-5 draw but the result does not favour any of the two teams of a place in tomorrow’s final against Australia in the 10th Sultan of Johor Cup International Invitational Hockey Tournament.
Instead, the Britons and Indians will compete in the classification matches. While the Australians, who play South Africa later, have 10 points in the kitty, India have eight and Great Britain seven. The South Africans and Japanese have a better chance of qualifying for the final against Australia. Both have six points after four matches.
With their eye set on breaking their five-year-old title jinx in the Sultan of Johor Cup, best known for producing top-level international players, the Indians have no options but come clean with an outright victory over Great Britain in this last group match.
The same goes to Great Britain, champions in 2015, 2018 and 2019. But they found themselves in sticky situations. The Indians clawed back from 5-3 down to level 5-5 with two minutes of the match remaining.
Great Britain got out of the blocks quickly and within a minute of play Max Anderson set the rhythm in motion for the defending champions by taking a 1-0 lead. Anderson took advantage of a cross from the left and tapped the ball past goalkeeper Yuvraj Bhuhi.
The Britons had to deal with a flurry of attacks from the Indians after this and could not absurd the pressure.
With a number of players in the core group of the team that featured in last year’s Junior World Cup, where it finished fourth, the Indians restored parity through Chandura Boby Poovanna via a seventh minute field goal. The first half ended 1-1.
Great Britain continued to threaten with a couple of penalty corners in the third quarter and scored two more goals within a space of two minutes. Anderson scored a brace in the 40th minute and Harrison Stone took advantage of a sloppy deface in the 42nd to push the ball past goalkeeper Yuvraj, who looked stunned. Great Britain 3 India 1.
But the Indians clawed back ferociously in the fourth quarter into a high voltage match. Amandeep (50th minute) parked the ball into goal with a reverse stick shot and Hundal Araijeet Singh nailed the third three minutes later as India and Great Britain level at 3-3.
However, Great Britain and India rode through the match in the last six minutes with exciting encounters. Jamie Golden scored a brace in the 54th and 56th minutes to put Great Britain 5-4 ahead. But the Indians gave their best performance to hold Great Britain to a 5-5 draw with a brace from Shardanand Tiwari penalty corner conversions in the 56th minutes.
(Press Release: Sultan of Johor Cup Media Team)