India kicked off the FIH Hockey Pro League at home impressively, securing a 4-1 victory over Spain and showcasing resilience against the Netherlands. Coach Craig Fulton’s emphasis on defensive structure and swift counter-attacks was evident, but it was the seasoned players who shone. Harmanpreet Singh, a dragflick specialist, displayed unwavering confidence, scoring crucial goals, including a remarkable equalizer against the Netherlands in his 200th international match. Despite his consistent brilliance, Harmanpreet faced challenges at the last year’s World Cup, converting only one penalty corner as India missed the quarterfinals.
Vice-captain Hardik Singh emerged as a pivotal figure, assuming multiple roles as a playmaker and a presser-in-chief. His versatility and leadership on the field were evident against Spain and the Netherlands, where he contributed both defensively and offensively. Despite a challenging World Cup experience, both Harmanpreet and Hardik showcased their best against top teams.
Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, a stalwart for over a decade and a half, maintained his high standards. His clutch saves during shootouts and impeccable set-piece defending played a crucial role in India’s success. Sreejesh’s reflexes and reaction time, even after 300 international matches, remain sharp.
The trio of Harmanpreet, Hardik, and Sreejesh played instrumental roles in securing a bonus point against the Netherlands. Looking ahead, India faces a formidable challenge against Australia and Ireland, aiming to build on the momentum from their strong start in the FIH Hockey Pro League.
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