Great Britain men battled to a deserved 3-2 victory over India in their second match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia on Sunday. Despite high temperatures and humidity which clearly suited their rivals, Great Britain dug deep and held them at bay to secure a win which leaves them second in the table ahead of the next set of matches on Monday.
Great Britain had much of the possession in the first half and dominated for long periods, but India looked dangerous on the counter attack.
British pressure paid off when, seven minutes before half time, good team play led to a well worked penalty corner move was finished by East Grinstead’s Glenn Kirkham.
Britain were worth their half time lead, but Cannock goalkeeper James Fair had to be alert on two occasions, saving well from Danish and Gurbaj Singh.
Britain extended their lead with a deserved second goal which came nine minutes after play had resumed with Ben Hawes finishing off another well-worked penalty corner.
In stifling heat with temperatures around 29 degrees and high humidity, Britain worked hard to maintain their lead and had much possession, but were rocked by two goals in three minutes which threatened a repeat of Malaysia’s comeback in the opening match.
Raghunath scored with a blistering 56th minute penalty corner drag flick which gave James Fair in goal no chance. And shortly after Sunil grabbed the crucial equaliser from open play.
With Britain sitting deeper and India gaining more possession the game became very end to end, mainly due to the heat.
But GB hit back to take the points with Reading’s Nick Catlin latching on to a pass from Matt Daly after Britain had turned over Indian possession in their own half. Catlin scored on 62 minutes with a deft reverse stick chip over the advancing keeper to give Britain a lead they would not surrender.
A late flurry of penalty corners were brilliantly defended with a line save by East Grinstead’s Barry Middleton and bravery from Ian McKay, and Britain held out for a hard-earned and morale-boosting victory ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Argentina (11:05 BST).
“It’s great to win and we scored from some great penalty corners,” said Head Coach Jason Lee. “And there was some fantastic defending when it was getting difficult in the conditions.
“It’s a huge advantage for teams like India and Malaysia to be playing in those conditions, they thrive in this weather. But apart from some very good goal defending from the Malaysians we would’ve had two wins.
“Argentina tomorrow will be interesting. It’s a quick turnaround and it will be a war of attrition given the temperatures. Individually we should be too good for them, but they’ve had a good win today so it will be interesting.”
GREAT BRITAIN 3 – 2 (1-0 HT) INDIA (Other results/points table here)
Great Britain Goalscorers: Glenn Kinkham 29 (PC), Ben Hawes 44 (PC) and Nick Catlin 62 (F)
India Goalscorers: VR Raghunath 56 (PC), SV Sunil 59 (F)
Great Britain Hockey Press Release