As it happened: India vs Japan, Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey
Harmanpreet equalised through a PC after Japan took a surprise lead, which followed Sardar's deft flick in the third quarter that proved to be the winner in the end.
Photo Credit: Hockey India
END OF 4th QUARTER & MATCH (IND BEAT JAPAN 2-1)
INDIA WIN! Sardar's goal helps India survive Japan scare with a 2-1 win. Harmanpreet equalised for India before that after Kenji gave Japan the surprise lead.
But India would do well to address their finishing woes, which highlighted in the chances missed by Ramandeep Singh.
India play Australia in their next game tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. Do join us back then.
57th min: PC to India but Rupinder makes a hash of it. Ball goes dead under the goalkeeper and another PC for the Indian team. But Rupinder misses there as well, over and wide of the post.
56th min: India have gotten more defensive in the last 3-4 min. That's allowing Japan to press forward. Dangerous last few minutes.
54th min: Japan reach the right pocket of Indian half but dribbled too long and then were crowded off by Indian defence.
52nd min: India desperate for that cushion of one goal. Every time Japan move forward, that one-goal difference looks scary.
48th min: Four Japanese fielder, and Sardar foxes them all with his fluidity.
END OF 3RD QUARTER (IND 2 - 1 JPN)
Kullar goes in this time, good overlapping run from the right, slips it in for Ramandeep who deflects it wide of the goal.
42nd min: Sardar is in total control of the midfield. That's resulting in more circle penetrations for India, but finishing sub-standard.
38th min: Ramandeep with another good run from the right, overlaps but pushes it into the empty space instead of an Indian stick. Finishing continues to let him and India down.
36th min: India have found their feet, albeit after a scare and tad too late. Defenders pressing more regularly up to the midfield to put the Japanese team under pressure.
GOAL! What a superb start to the quarter by Sardar. Superb effort, finished it with a deft reverse flick to beat the Japan goalkeeper.
END OF 2nd QUARTER (IND 1-1 JPN at HALF-TIME)
India won the possession game in the first 30 min with 64%, but should have been ahead, especially on that clear opportunity for Ramandeep where he delayed the shot by 0.1 second allowing a Japanese stick to deflect it above the far post.
27th min: That was so close to 2-1 for India as Sunil pushed it in front of the goal from the baseline. But Japan manage to keep it away from the post.
25th min: EQUALISER FOR INDIA! Clinical finish by Harmanpreet Singh. Low to the right of Japan 'keeper who had no chance to save it. India level it at 1-1.
PC for India. Good pressure applied by Sardar & Co.
24th min: And another chance for India! This time Mandeep fails to make anything of it.
23rd min: Nice skills there by Talwinder to move into the front of the goal but the Japan goalie rushed out to kick the ball out of danger.
20th min: India not able to stitch any meaningful moves so far in this quarter. Japan continue to pile on the pressure.
And another PC for Japan on the break. This time it goes over the bar. But India living dangerously here
18th min: GOAL! Japan have stunned India with an 18th minute strike by Kenji. 1-0
Japan move in from the left, and get the first penalty corner of the match as the ball is smartly pushed into Harjeet's legs.
END OF 1st QUARTER (0-0)
13th min: MISSED! Clear chance missed their by Ramandeep. His hits-and-misses story continues.
Surprise Stat: Japan have had three circle penetrations compared to India's just one in the first 10 minutes.
9th min: A fair number of Indian fans in the stands now, blowing trumpets. And just then India got a good chance as they forayed up to the middle of the striking circle, but crowded by Japanese shirts. Still no shot at goal as a Japanese defender finds an Indian foot to avert danger.
7th min: That was a good ball to the right from Sardar. Talwinder collected it well but no space to go forward. Had to pass it back to the midfield.
5th min: Japan defence doing well to keep India at bay and not allowing Sardar to feed those telling passes through the middle.
2nd min: India controlling the game with majority of the possession, spraying it around from left to right, but not able to find any holes in the Japanese wall.
And we are away in the first quarter.
3:35 p.m. The National Anthems have just got over. And it's play time now as Roelant Oltmans gets his communication gears in order.
3:30 p.m. Pakistan, meanwhile, began the tournament with a win over Canada just before this game. The Pakistanis, who have failed to qualify for the Rio Games, beat the Canadians 3-1.
3:20 p.m. India begin their campaign today against Japan, against who the Asian champions are expected to start with a win.
3:15 p.m. In the post, after a lot of time on the bench, will be Harjot Singh who would want to prove his tag of Sreejesh's deputy.
It's a slightly different looking Indian team with no PR Sreejesh in the post and no Akashdeep Singh leading the forward line. While that gives a deserving rest to the seniors, it will also bring rising stars like drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh and midfielder Harjeet Singh in the limelight.
India begin their final stretch on Road to Rio today with the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, where the Sardar Singh-led team is ready to test its skills against the world's best.
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