FIH Pro League 2020, India vs Netherlands: The hosts India could not have asked for a better start to its entry to the elite FIH Pro League 2020. In its opening game at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneshwar, India not only beat the bronze medalists of the inaugural edition of the League, the Netherlands, 5-2, but also avenged the 1-2 quarter final defeat it suffered in the 2018 Odisha Men’s World Cup Hockey Tournament.The hero of the home team was none else than star drag flicker Rupendra Pal Singh who scored a brace.
The last time India had beaten the Netherlands was in a Test series in 2017 when India won both the games 2-1 and 4-3. Lalit, who scored one of the goals for the home team, was adjudged the Man of the Match.
Playing its first FIH Pro League, India started with a bang with a brilliant field goal by Gurjant Singh off a beautiful move with Mandeep Singh. Elated at its opening minute success, India consolidated its position in the 12th minute when Rupendra Pal Singh made no mistake with a penalty corner conversion with a knee high flick.
For the Netherlands, the second quarter was their best as it not only neutralised the 0-2 lead but also threatened to go ahead but for some good defence by the Indian team.
It was in the 25th minute that Tip Jansen reduced the margin with a good penalty corner conversion. Incidentally the visitors had more penalty corners than the home team but both Krishan Pathak and Sreejesh did good work under the bar to prevent any big damage.
After the two teams broke for the interval at 2-2, it was India that started from where it left in the first quarter A brilliant ball fed by Harmanpreet Singh saw Lalit hoisting India’s fourth goal in the 36th minute after Mandeep Singh had struck three minutes earlier with a brilliant field goal. It was left to experienced Rupendra Pal Singh to round off the tally with a high flick into the net in the 46th minute. With three points from the opening game, India has not only made a winning debut in the event but also avenged the 2018 World Cup defeat.