Glasgow: A far from impressive India had to toil hard to register a 3-1 win over a lowly Wales in their opening Pool A match in the men's hockey competition of the 20th Commonwealth Games at the National Hockey Centre, here today.
Ranked ninth in the world, India had to dig deep to overcome a resolute Wales defence and pocket their first points in the Glasgow Games. India scored two goals through penalty corner conversions by V R Raghunath (20th minute) and Rupinder Pal Singh (42nd) before comeback man Girvinder Singh Chandi scored from a field effort in the 47th minute. Wales' lone goal was netted by Andrew Cornick in the 23rd minute from field play.
India's Rupinder Singh (L) vies for the ball with Wales' Richard Gay at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on Friday. Pic/AFP
India started the match as overwhelming favourites against the 31st-ranked Wales, but the Sardar Singh-led side looked completely off colour in the opening half with their fowards failing to make any inroads. The Welshmen, on the other hand, started cautiously and defended in numbers. After sitting back initially, Wales put the fragile Indian defence under constant threat with counter attacks in the final 15 minutes of the first half.
As expected, India enjoyed the opening share of exchanges and got their first scoring chance in the fifth minute but Rupinder's high flick from a penalty corner hit the cross bar. Minutes later Akashdeep Singh's try from close range was kept away by Wales goalkeeper David Kettle. After surviving a penalty corner scare, India finally surged ahead in the 20th minute when Raghunath scored from their second set piece with a powerful flick. But three minutes later, Wales stunned the Indians to drew level through a beautiful field goal by Cornick.
The Wales forward scored with a deft touch from a tight angle after receiving Dan Kyriakides' cross from the right flank. Both India and Wales earned a penalty corner each in the remaining time of the first half but failed to utilise the opportunities to go into the breather locked at 1-1. Shell shocked by Wales performance in the first 35 minutes, the Indians came out with more purpose after the change of ends and it was evidently visible in their game. The Indians looked far more threatening as the midfield and forward line combined well to create chances.