India began their World Cup 2023 campaign on a high with a dominant 2-0 win over lower-ranked Spain at the spectacular Bisra Munda Stadium—a state-of-the-art 21,000-seater stadium—in Rourkela on Friday, January 13. Goals from Amit Rohidas and Hardik Singh gave India 3 points in their Pool D match.
India were clinical after a passive start in the first quarter and dominated possession, circle penetrations in a dominant display of hockey which would have made coach Graham Reid happy. India had as many as 27 circle penetrations compared to Spain’s 25, most of which came in the fourth quarter when they were frenetically looking for an equaliser.
India are in the second spot in Pool D after England went top following their 5-0 in their World Cup 2023 opener against Wales. Local lad Amit Rohidas, who was declared the Player of the Match, sent the Rourkela crowd into a tizzy when he caught hold of a deflection from a penalty corner and smashed it into the top right corner. It was a stunning stroke that got India off the mark in the home World Cup.
India fluffed chances to go further ahead in the first quarter but a blistering run from Hardik Singh gave them a 2-0 lead in the second quarter. Hardik made a fine run down the left and cut in to the box before trying to find a blue shirt with a cross across the face of the goal. Howwever, a deflection from a Spanish defender saw the ball roll over into the goal.
India had opportunities to extend the lead in the third quarter but captain Harmanpreet Singh’s shaky show in the attacking third saw them miss out on chances.
It was a solid defensive display as well from India as they defeated Spain for the first time since February 2022. The last time they faced Spain in November 2022 in the FIH Pro League, India blew a 2-0 lead and were held to a draw.
India will next face England in their Pool D match on Sunday in Rourkela before meeting Wales in the final pool match. The winner of each of the 4 pools directly progress to the quarter-final while the next two in each group progress to the cross-over to determine the final 4 berths of the quarter-final stage.
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