India beat Olympic champs Argentina 3-0April 13, 2021
A last-minute comeback in one and a clean-sheet in another: India produced contrasting performances in their first tour for competitive matches in more than a year, but remained unbeaten against Olympic champions Argentina in the twin Pro League matches played over the weekend in Buenos Aires.
In the first match, played post-midnight India time on Sunday, drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh scored two goals, including the equaliser with just six seconds left in the match, in the 2-2 draw. Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh continued from where he left off in February 2020, producing a stellar performance in the shoot-offs to save three Argentine shots and help India claim a bonus point. This was the third straight match where Sreejesh ensured India’s win in the shoot-outs, with the previous two coming against the Netherlands and Australia before pandemic hit in 2020.
While India showed commendable fighting spirit in the first game, the team played with much more control and composure in the second match on Sunday to sail to a 3-0 win. After seeing off Argentine pressure in the opening 10 minutes, where goalkeeper Krishan Pathak made a couple of crucial saves, Harmanpreet once again opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Lalit Upadhyay doubled the lead in the 25th and Mandeep Singh sealed a comfortable victory two minutes from time with an opportunistic goal.
“What I really liked from Saturday’s game was the ability to not give up, and stage a comeback. It is a good confidence booster to know that if you are stuck in that position, you have the patience and skill to be able to do that,” chief coach Graham Reid said, adding the team was not getting carried away with the weekend’s results.
India will play two more practice matches against Argentina on Tuesday and Wednesday. In May, India are scheduled to play two matches each against Germany, Spain and Great Britain as a part of the Pro League campaign. However, the future assignments remain uncertain, especially after the International Hockey Federation postponed India’s two Pro League matches against New Zealand in Bhubaneswar, which were to be held in late May.