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FIH Professional Hockey League | India end their campaign with a third place after losing to the Netherlands

With the league title on the line, the Netherlands cruised to a 2-1 victory against the Indian men’s hockey team here in the FIH Hockey Men’s Pro League meeting on Sunday. The victory secured the hosts the FIH Hockey Pro League title while India ended their campaign with a third place finish.

Abhishek (1′) was India’s only goalscorer while Jip Janssen (7′) and Jorrit Croon (45′) scored for the hosts. India had gotten off to a flying start with a goal in the first minute of the game thanks to Abhishek who made a brave foray into the kicking circle and took a valiant shot on goal.

Although India’s early 1-0 lead put the Dutch on their feet, they did nothing unseemly under pressure but instead banked on their attack which helped them earn CP. Jip Janssen shooting from the penalty corner was on target with a ferocious drag kick that went past India’s experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh at a frantic pace.

Barely a minute into the second quarter, India created a superb opportunity when Harman Preet Singh made a long pass to striker Gujrant Singh who had a nice shot on goal. But a tackle from a Dutch defender saw India awarded a penalty stroke. However, the chance was lost with Pirmin Blaak displaying impeccable skills to stop Harmanpreet’s flick aiming for the top right pocket. Minutes later the Dutch launched a fine attack which saw them create a CP but an alert Sreejesh continued to impress with some excellent saves.

With the scores tied at 1-1 when the teams entered halftime, it was an even battle over the next two quarters where both teams worked their strategies to create scoring opportunities. Although in the first half the Dutch dominated with ball possession and entrances into the circle, India increased the pressure in the third and fourth quarters with improvised ball possession and penetration into the circle, creating a number of opportunities through CP as well as field goal opportunities. However, they couldn’t get any clear shots that could beat the Dutch defence.

Meanwhile, the hosts didn’t fumble in their attack as they converted from a CP in the 45th minute. A well-worked set-piece saw Jip fire the ball to left flak which was deflected perfectly by Croon who clawed back that much-needed 2-1 lead. Buoyed by home support, the Netherlands defended the scoreline until the last whistle, winning the league with two more games to play against Spain. India, on the other hand, ended their campaign with 30 points on the table and Belgium ended their campaign finishing second on the pool table.

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