The men of India have conquered the top position in the Pro League. National coach Graham Reid’s team recorded a win and a draw – loss after shoot-outs – against Argentina last weekend in Bhubaneswar, taking them four points.
It was the meeting between the numbers four (India) and six (Argentina) in the world ranking. Of the last ten confrontations, both countries each won four games and drew twice. India and Argentina were also evenly matched in both Pro League matches.
The first match ended 2-2 with Mandeep Singh’s equalizing goal for India only sixty seconds before the final whistle. Eight minutes earlier, the Argentines seemed to have the win in regular time after the goal of KZ captain Nicolas Keenan from a penalty corner.
Bonus point Argentina
However, the late equalizer did not give the Indians, with whom Surender Kumar played his 150th international match, the extra confidence for the shoot-outs. Only Harmanpreet Singh cashed in on his attempt, while the Argentinians Keenan, Tomas Domane and Lucas Toscani were accurate to secure the bonus point for Los Leones.
A day later, the game seemed to turn into shoot-outs again, after Argentinian Martin Ferreiro – still active with Pinoké last season – had put the 3-3 on the board four minutes before the end. Just like in the first game, the devil was in the tail. As the seconds ticked away, there was Mandeep Singh again. He completed a combination with Jugraj and gave India not only its fifth victory but also the top position in the Pro League.
38. Gurjant Singh 1-0
45. Nicolas Acosta 1-1
52. Nicolas Keenan 1-2 (sc)
60. Mandeep Singh 2-2
* Argentina wins after shoot-outs 1-3
India – Argentina 4-3
17. Hardik Singh 1-0
20. Jugraj Singh 2-0
40. Nicolas Della Torre 2-1 (sc)
51. Tomas Domene 2-2 (sb)
52. Jugraj Singh 3-2 (sc )
56. Martin Ferreiro 3-3
60. Mandeep Singh 4-3