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India get Olympic boost with Azlan Shah bronze

Jaspreet Sahni | http://jaspreet_sahni

Updated: June 3, 2012, 5:28 PM IST
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India get Olympic boost with Azlan Shah bronze
India beat Great Britain 3-1 to secure a bronze medal at the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.

India ended a three-match losing streak against Great Britain by beating them 3-1 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Sunday to secure a bronze medal, which is exactly the kind of boost Michael Nobbs's men needed ahead of the Olympics in July-August.

India went into the match having lost to the Britons thrice - twice at the London Olympics test event and once in the league phase here. But the team showed no nerves whatsoever in a display of attacking hockey to exact a sweet revenge.

Shivendra Singh, Sandeep Singh and Tushar Khandker were on the score sheet for India, after Ashley Jackson had put his team ahead in the first half which ended at 1-0 in favour of Great Britain.

India started off with a dominating intent, with Shivendra getting two opportunities in the first 10 minutes to put his team ahead. But on both the occasions, the final touch eluded the star Indian striker. Continuous forays into the British circle resulted in a penalty corner for India, but Danish Mujtaba erred with his stop and the opportunity was wasted.

Shivendra and SK Uthappa came close to scoring past the 15-minute mark but were again left to rue a missed chance. Great Britain got their first penalty corner, against the run of play, in the last minute of the first half, which Jackson converted neatly to put his team in the lead.

Jackson almost scored again in the opening minutes of the second half but the shot was deflected wide by a rushing Indian defence.

India then started getting a few moves together that gave them an equaliser through Shivendra in the 43rd minute. Shivendra was the beneficiary of a pass from Uthappa, who made the goal possible with an amazing display of speed, skill and control. A second penalty corner came India's way in the 52nd minute that put them ahead, courtesy the conversion by Sandeep.

In a desperate move to find the equaliser, the Britishers took their goalkeeper off in the last three minutes and replaced him with another attacker up front. However, the move proved fatal as Sandeep's cheeky scoop in the 69th minute found an unmarked Khandker lurking in the circle, and he just had to tap the ball into the empty goal to make it 3-1.

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