The Indian men’s hockey team on Saturday defeated South Africa 3-2 in the semifinals to enter the finals of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Abhishek (20′), Mandeep Singh (28′), and Jugraj Singh (58′) scored for India, while Ryan Julius (33′) and Mustafa Kassim (59′) scored for South Africa. With this win, India have secured their place in the finals and will compete for the gold medal on Monday.
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The match began with India pushing deep into South Africa’s half as Lalit Kumar Upadhyay entered the circle to trouble the opposition defence. Seconds later, captain Manpreet Singh bowled a ball to Abhishek inside the circle, but the South African defense made a save. Proteas goalkeeper Govan Jones made two consecutive saves to deny India and create great chances after Akashdeep Singh shot into the circle. Jones also denied Harmanpreet Singh after hitting a powerful dragflick on target from a penalty corner and neither team could score in the first quarter.
India continued to make dangerous runs in the striking circle, especially on the left flank. Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak made a crucial save after South Africa won a penalty corner. Abhishek finally broke the shackles with a powerful reverse shot into the net from the edge of the circle and India took a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Akashdeep Singh received an incisive pass from Vivek Sagar Prasad in the circle. But his shot on target was once again saved by Govan Jones. A late counter-attack saw Mandeep Singh slot the ball into the net past the South African goalkeeper and India took a 2-0 half-time lead.
The second half started with India getting an early penalty corner to put pressure on the South African defence. But Varun Kumar’s shot was cleared by the opposition. Ryan Julius scored from the rebound on a penalty corner to reduce South Africa’s deficit to 1-2. A few minutes later, Abhishek’s shot towards the far post was once again saved by Govan Jones. The South African keeper saved again as Germanpreet Singh fired a shot on target from a penalty corner.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, India began to show urgency to extend their lead as Germanpreet Singh created a dangerous chance down the left flank, but the ball went just wide. With Gurjant Singh running into the circle, India kept the South African defense on their toes as the clock ticked down. Jugraj Singh scored another goal for India from a late penalty corner, but Mustafa Kassim added a goal for South Africa as well with a minute left on the clock. India managed to maintain composure in the last few seconds and cruised to the final with a 3-2 victory.
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