Hockey: India lose to Japan 3-4
India didn't let their heads drop though and almost drew themselves level with a penalty corner of their own in the third minute
Johor Bahru [Malaysia]: The Indian junior team lost a high octane game to Japan 4-3 at the Sultan of Johor Cup on Tuesday. Japan took an early lead in the game, their very first attack earning them the first penalty corner. From the resultant drag flick, Wataru Matsumoto converted it into a goal to give them the lead. India didn't let their heads drop though and almost drew themselves level with a penalty corner of their own in the third minute. But Pratap Lakra's effort was saved by Takumi Kitagawa in Japan's goal.
India's attacking efforts were constant and through the first quarter, they were a threat going forward but were unable to apply the finishing touch to their play. At the back, Prashant Chauhan pulled off a succession of great saves right at the death to ensure India went into the break down by just the single goal. In a scrappy second quarter, India created more opportunities for the equaliser but were unable to breach the Japanese defence in the final third.
Japan on their part played on the counter and scored a second goal in the 22nd minute -- Kosei Kawabe converting a penalty corner to double their lead. The teams went into halftime with Japan leading 2-0. In an action-packed third quarter, India struck first, earning their second penalty corner of the game almost straight from the restart. This time, Mandeep Mor and Gursahibjit combined with a penalty corner routine straight from the training ground for the latter to score India's opener.
Within two minutes, Japan struck back with Keita Watanabe converting Japan's fifth penalty corner of the game into a goal to make it 3-1. Kosei Kawabe scored Japan's fourth goal in the 37th to extend their lead to a three-goal cushion. However, within a minute India pulled back one with Sharda Nand Tiwari slotting an inch-perfect drag-flick into the top right to make the score 4-2 as they went into the final break.
India went into the final quarter attacking without abandon. Their constant circle penetrations and attacking play was thwarted by the Japanese defence but in the 53rd minute, their efforts finally paid dividends. Off a penalty corner, Pratap Lakra struck to drag them within one goal of a remarkable comeback. In the end, though it wasn't to be, Japan held on to take a 4-3 victory.
India will face Australia in their next round-robin league-stage match in Johor Bahru on October 16.
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