|March 6th, 2010|
|21||Pool B||8:30pm||ENG - IND||3 - 2 (1 - 0)||Final|
The marquis match of the day opposed England, still unbeaten in the competition after wins over Australia (3-2), South Africa (6-4) and Pakistan (5-2), to a an Indian outfit that gave hope to their whole country when they opened the World Cup with a decisive victory over arch-rivals Pakistan (4-1), only to fall to Australia (2-5) and Spain (2-5). The pundits were divided in the approach to take (more individual runs? More dribbles one-on-one? More passes?) but the crowd certainly did not worry about these technicalities and was cheering unconditionally for their heroes.
The first chance was for Sandeep SINGH on penalty-corner but his low flick did not fool the English runners. He has been harshly criticized by the powerful local media for his poor shows in defense and his inefficiency on penalty-corners, the main reason he is on the team. India committed the same basic defensive mistake as against Spain, leaving James TINDALL unmarked on the far post to quietly deflect a hard pass from Nick CATLIN in the 16th minute. Shivendra SINGH, back in the team after serving a two-game suspension for an incident against Pakistan, arrived on his own at the top of the circle, but English keeper James FAIR was waiting for him and showed his class by pushing the attacker aside until his retreating defenders could take charge of him.
Shivendra SINGH scrambled another chance a few minutes later, hurrying too much his shot. Meanwhile, the European Champions were playing their collective game with poise and speed, both in defense and counter-attack. They defended another penalty-corner successfully, this time with BHARAT officiating and they went into the break with a meager, but precious, one-goal lead.
Second period started in a corrida atmosphere, with feet stomping, flag waving, chanting, shouting and cheering. To its credit and unlike in other sports and other parts of the world, the crowd was supporting its team enthusiastically but without any jeering for the English opponents, although there was understandably little applause when Ashley JACKSON, officiating in replacement of injured Richard MANTELL, slotted a penalty-corner out of reach of Adrian D'SOUZA in the 42nd minute.
Rajpal SINGH and Sarvanjit SINGH tried to save the nation with deep solitary runs, but England scored again in the 47th minute by Ashley JACKSON, increasing their lead to 3 goals. Pushed by the roaring crowd, the Indian forwards finally scored by Gurwinder Singh CHANDI deflecting from close range a hard cross from the right wing, then shortly after by Rajpal SINGH on the post to collect the ball at the conclusion of a superb Asian style counter-attack that started with a save by their keeper D'SOUZA.
The last ten minutes promised to be pure hell for England, with the whole Indian team in attack and the crowd acting as twelfth and even thirteenth player. England fought fiercely on every ball and managed to maintain their structure and strict individual marking. They got a reprieve when Sardar SINGH was showed a yellow card for a nasty tackle on Ashley JACKSON. The Indians were becoming totally desperate and unnecessarily rough and lost Gurbaj SINGH on another yellow card but nevertheless nearly equalized in the dying seconds of the match by Rajpal SINGH, missing a deflection tantalizingly close to the far post.
Match Facts (England v. India):
> England beat India 3-2 to become the first team at Delhi 2010 to qualify for the semi-finals.
> England have reached the semi-finals for the second time and for the first time since 1986 when they finished runners-up to Australia.
> England have now won their last 7 WC matches.
> Ashley Jackson’s 42nd minute PC goals marked the 150th goal for England in World Cup competition.
> Jackson has now scored in each of England’s four matches at Delhi 2010.
> India (-4), Pakistan (-6) and South Africa (-15) are all on three points from four matches, with one match to go in Pool B.