Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday lauded Indian men's hockey team for defeating world number one Belgium 2-1 at the Kalinga Stadium in FIH Hockey Pro League.
"Well done boys as India defeated World No. 1 and World Champion Belgium 2-1 in 1st match of the double header in FIH Pro-League. Mandeep Singh & Ramandeep Singh scored for India. Well on course #RoadtoTokyo2020," Rijiju tweeted.
Mandeep Singh (2') and Ramandeep Singh (46') scored for India against the World Champions. With this sensational victory, India have consolidated their World ranking from number five to four for the first time since 2003.
Despite dominating with ball possession, making as many as 38 circle entries, taking 24 shots on goal and 12 penalty corners, the Belgian unit could not muster much success in the circle, thanks to stand-out performance by Indian goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak who lived up to the billing hooter-to-hooter, backing India's defence by knocking off pretty much every opportunity created by the Belgian strikers.
India were quick to get off the blocks with debutant Raj Kumar Pal setting up a fantastic goal within 90 seconds of play as he passed from the left flank to Dilpreet Singh on top of the circle.
Young forward Dilpreet, making his comeback in the Indian squad after over a year, took a powerful shot on goal which found a perfect deflection from Mandeep Singh who was positioned in front of Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
With scores reading 1-1, it was a tense final quarter but India pushed back Belgium by scoring another goal. It was Ramandeep Singh, who after injecting the ball during a PC battery, picked up a rebound off Belgium's first rusher to score the goal.
Though Belgium created penalty corners in the dying minutes of the match, India held their nerves and experienced goalkeeper Sreejesh ensured India sealed the game and earned the winning points to stay at the second position in the FIH Hockey Pro League points table. Belgium are still on top with 11 points from 5 games.
This was India's 50th win against Belgium and the most memorable one as it has helped the team consolidate the position of world number four pushing defending Olympic Champions Argentina to five.
Krishan Pathak was adjudged Player of the Match for his brave performance. India will take on Belgium at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium on Sunday, February 9.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)