The Proteas’ first outing at the Hockey World Cup in India was a baptism of fire after they received a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the hosts on Wednesday.
Chasing their first world title in 43 years, the Indians came out swinging planting two debilitating blows in the opening quarter of the encounter.
The Proteas did well to hold off a rampant Indian side in the first nine minutes of the match, but the home side’s relentless attacks inside the circle finally took its toll.
India got on to the scoreboard 10 minutes into the match, which was just reward for their efforts in the opening moments.
South African goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse did well to make an initial save, but Indian striker Mandeep Singh pounced on the rebound to get the ball into the back of the net to open their account.
Attacking from all corners of the field, India had South Africa’s defence at sixes and sevens for most of the match.
India doubled their score only two minutes later, with Akashdeep Singh scoring a field goal for a 2-0 lead.
South Africa had been starved of possession, with the hosts enjoying the lion’s share of the ball and field position.
The Proteas enjoyed an improved second quarter by keeping the ball out of the goal box. They were nevertheless callous inside the circle, where they battled to link up to launch any sort of attack on goal.
South Africa could only manage one shot at goal and six circle penetrations in the first half, compared to eight and 18 respectively by India.
The third quarter provided the Proteas with an opportunity to get on to the score-sheet, while they also managed to keep India out for most of the chukka.
They had their first penalty corner in the 42nd minute, but India kept the ball out of harm’s way to deny the South Africans a reprieve.
Adding insult to injury, India scored a minute later, with Simranjeet Singh sending the ball into the back of the net off a cross-shot from Mandeep Singh.
South Africa’s pain was compounded when Lalit Upadhyay deflected into the box shortly before the end of the third quarter to extend the lead to 4-0.
A penalty corner just after the break led to India’s fifth and final goal, with Simranjeet Singh claiming his brace and planting the knockout blow.
DAY 1 Odisha #HWC2018 Bhubaneswar— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) November 28, 2018
Winning start for Belgium & India
🇧🇪 2-1 🇨🇦
🇮🇳 5 - 0 🇿🇦
Full story 👉🔗 https://t.co/iqLPBmkowA
@BELRedLions @FieldHockeyCan @TheHockeyIndia @SA_Hockey_Men pic.twitter.com/EceUun0jys
SA captain Tim Drummond was left dejected, but said they believed they would be able to dust themselves off and bounce back.
“I’m very disappointed. We thought we could come here and get a result and put in a positive performance, so naturally we are disappointed,” Drummond said.
“But I know the strength of this group, and we can grow and learn from these tough experiences.”
South Africa will next face Canada on Sunday in their second Pool C match.@ockertde