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India beat Japan 2-1 to win hockey series

Bhubaneswar: Indian team beat Japan 2-1 in the 3rd 'Hockey Test' to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series, here today. Drag-flicker VR Raghunath scored one while Akashdeep Singh displayed brilliant stick-work to score the second goal for his team.

Japan's Hirotaka Wakari pulled one back for the visitors. In the first quarter of the match, it was Japan, who put pressure on the Indian defence with their long passes. But Birendra Lakra, K Chinglensana and Raghunath foiled Japanese raids with a lot of confidence.

Led by skipper Sardar Singh, India went on counter with the help of their short passes. In the second quarter, both the teams showed positive intent to create more chances. In the 19th minute, Japan's Tomonori Ono ran down the left flank where he found his teammate Hiroki Sakamoto in the circle, who took a reverse shot but that was nicely blocked custodian Harjot SIngh.

In the 30th minute, India earned their first penalty corner after a quick attack. Dharamvir Singh pushed the ball in and Raghunath dragged it on the right of the Japanese goalie Suguru Shimmoto, who tried to stop it with his right hand but the ball deflected before crashing into the back of the net.

In the 36th minute of the third quarter, Akashdeep Singh dribbled past a host of Japanese defenders before slotting it past a hapless goalie. However, the joy was short-lived as Japan managed to earn a penalty corner in the 44th minute, which was perfectly converted by Wakari. However India defended their slender lead to clinch the series with the fourth match turnibg out to be inconsequential.

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