India, England play 1-1 draw in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

Ipoh (Malaysia), March 4  India and England played a 1-1 draw to gain their first points in the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday.

Young striker Shilanand Lakra scored his maiden international goal for India in the 14th minute but Mark Gleghorne converted a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute to tie the score for England.

Coming into this match, both India and England had suffered defeats in their opening match. While India lost 2-3 to Argentina, England were floored by Australia, who won 4-1. Hence, both India and Argentina were looking to bounce back with a strong show.

England were the better side at the start, making 10 circle entries inside the first quarter but they could not be efficient as they took only four shots. 

But India took the 1-0 lead against the run of play. England lost possession of the ball in their own half and Ramandeep Singh's pass to the striking circle was hit first-time by Talwinder Singh. But England's goalkeeper George Pinner could only parry it straight to Shilanand, who put the ball into the back of the net in his second international appearance.

The second quarter was more balanced between the two teams as India started the quarter well, winning a total of eight penalty corners to put England on the back-foot. However, India's efforts on goal were either saved or blocked by the English defence which meant that England survived the opening spell of pressure created by the Indian team.

In the latter phase of the quarter, it was the Englishmen who controlled proceedings as they were constantly threatening to find the equaliser, however India's defence was resolute and kept all of England's four shots out to go into the half-time with a 1-0 lead.

England were awarded their first penalty corner of the match towards the start of the third quarter and looked to make the most of India being down to 10-men as Shilanand had earned himself a green card at the stroke of the half-time hooter. However, to England's disappointment, Mark Gleghorne's delivery was deflected off his teammate Ian Sloan. 

The fourth quarter was an important one for both the teams as India looked to snatch the victory with a second goal, while England were eager to find the equaliser and make it an interesting final few minutes for the crowd in Ipoh. 

The English attack stuck to their task in the final quarter and earned themselves a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute when India were found guilty of a stick-check inside their own striking circle. Gleghorne fired a fierce stroke down the left to beat India's young goalkeeper Krishan B. Pathak. 

In the final eight minutes, neither of the teams could find the equaliser, settling for a draw.

In the other match, 2016 Olympic champions Argentina registered their second straight victory after thumping Ireland 5-3, as star drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat fired his second hat-trick in as many games.



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