|March 6th, 2008|
|10||Round-Robin||2:00pm||IND - GBR||2 - 3 (1 - 1)||Final|
The day started with the much anticipated game between Great Britain and India, the two teams largely favorites to fight for the lone ticket to Beijing on Sunday afternoon. Besides the immediate purpose of Olympic qualification, India vs. Great Britain is always a classic fixture in the hockey world, with historical results heavily in favor of the Asian team that claimed 24 wins against only 9 for the British team.
Before the start of play, Indian player Ignace TIRKEY was recognized for his 200th International Caps, British player Jonty CLARKE for his 100th, and Danish umpire Henrik EHLERS for his 150th International assignment. Also noted was the return of Coach Jason LEE on the British bench, after a brief trip back to England for the birth of his son.
The game was played early in the afternoon for TV broadcasting reasons and started with a bang for India, forcing a penalty corner in the 3rd minute of play. Alistair McGREGOR in the British goal was completely wrong-footed by V.R. RAGHUNATH’s powerful flick on the left post and India opened the scoring much to the delight of the Indian fans.
Great Britain settled down and played for a while with an extra player when Vickram KANTH was showed a yellow card. They threatened the Indian defense but showed some nervousness in front of the goal, finally tying the game on a penalty-corner by Richard MANTELL. The game then stayed in midfield for a while, with the traditional opposition of a more structured build-up from Great Britain and fast penetrating runs from India.
India were reduced to ten players again after Shivendra SINGH was showed a yellow card for a reckless tackle. Great Britain controlled the end of the period and were close to score on a fast combination of passes in the Indian circle, however the best opportunity was for Prabhjot SINGH who inherited a deep ball alone in front of the British goalkeeper but shot just wide.
After a tied score at half-time (1-1), the second period started with the same scenario as the first one, with India attacking immediately and forcing a series of penalty-corners that Great Britain struggled to survive unscathed. Great Britain had a series of unsuccessful penalty-corners of their own, but finally took the lead by Jonty CLARKE, not missing the chance to score on the occasion of his 100th Cap when receiving the ball in front of the empty goal after a decisive penetrating run on the right by Ali WILSON and Richard ALEXANDER.
India tried to create chances by hitting long balls into the circle, but the British team maintained their strict defensive structure to thwart the somewhat desperate Indian attempts. India finally tied the game in the 64th minute on a penalty corner by V.R. RAGHUNATH, his second goal of the game that pushed him to the top of the Goal Scorers list with a total of 8.
Great Britain regained the lead with a few minutes left in the game by Rob MOORE on another fast combination of passes in the circle, securing in the process the bragging rights in the rivalry between the two teams, although players and coaches on both sides were quick to acknowledge that the real test will be the Final on Sunday.