The Indian men’s hockey team reached the final of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games with a 3-2 win over South Africa in the semi-final on Saturday. Abhishek (20′), Mandeep Singh (28′), and Jugraj Singh (58′) scored the goals for India, as Ryan Julius (33′) and Mustapha Cassiem (59′) scored the goals for South Africa. With the win, India secured a spot in the final and will compete for the gold medal on Monday.
The match started with India pushing deep inside South Africa’s half as Lalit Kumar Upadhyay broke into the circle to trouble the opposition’s defence. Seconds later, captain Manpreet Singh passed a ball inside the circle to Abhishek, but the South African defence made the save. Proteas goalkeeper Gowan Jones made two consecutive saves to deny India after Akashdeep Singh tore into the circle and created great opportunities. Jones also denied Harmanpreet Singh after he struck a powerful dragflick on target from a penalty corner and the first quarter ended with neither of the two teams getting a goal on the board.
India continued to make dangerous runs inside the striking circle, particularly creating threat on the left flanks. Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak made a crucial save after South Africa earned back-to-back penalty corners. Abhishek finally broke the shackles with a stunning reverse hit into the nets from the edge of the circle as India took a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Akashdeep Singh received a penetrating pass in the circle from Vivek Sagar Prasad. But his shot on target was once again saved by Gowan Jones. A late counter-attack led to Mandeep Singh hitting the ball into the nets past the South African goalkeeper as India entered halftime with a 2-0 lead.
The second half started with India earning an early penalty corner and immediately putting pressure on South African defence. But Varun Kumar’s shot was cleared away by the opposition. Ryan Julius put South Africa on the board as he scored from a rebound off a penalty corner to reduce the gap to 1-2. Minutes later, Abhishek’s shot towards the far post was once again saved by Gowan Jones. The South African goalkeeper made a save again when Jarmanpreet Singh took a shot on target from a penalty corner.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, India started showcasing urgency to extend their lead as Jarmanpreet Singh created a dangerous opportunity from the left flank, but the ball just went wide. With Gurjant Singh making runs inside the circle, India kept South African defence on their toes as the clock kept ticking down. A late penalty corner saw Jugraj Singh scoring another goal for India, but Mustapha Cassiem added a goal for South Africa as well with a minute left on the clock. India managed to keep their composure in the last few seconds and picked up the win 3-2 to reach the final.