India outplayed reigning Asian Games champion Japan 7-2 to storm into the summit clash of the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament on Friday, assuring themselves a place in the year end's Olympic qualifying event
For the first time in the tournament, the Indian defence was literally tested as world no 18 Japan gave a good account of themselves in patches
The FIH Series Finals provide two spots in the Olympic Qualifiers to be held in October-November this year
With India's Tokyo 2020 hopes alive and a tournament win under their belt, they will be now looking towards the Olympic qualifiers next. Thank you for following the match with us and goodnight!
India win FIH Series Finals Bhubaneswar 5-1
That's the end. India, living up to their rankings and quality, won the final after beating South Africa 5-1. A good effort from the Graham Reid's side to maintain momentum leading up to the Olympic qualifiers.
First goal for South Africa, thanks to a penalty corner. Richard Pautz ensures there's a deflection from the close range to the penalty corner and Indians couldn't stop the ball from going inside the net. I'm afraid it's too late for the African side.
It was a bit of a nervy finish to the quarter for India, with South Africa making a couple of sorties deep into their half. The defence deals with it adeptly though, and Krishan Pathak makes an athletic stop. It's just a matter of time now. One more quarter and India will emerge as champions.
Q3: India 4-0 South Africa
India didn't convert a penalty corner. That must be a first in the match. Amit Rohidas' shot didn't trouble the defence much.
Vivek Sagar Prasad converts from the close range and India are 4-0 up in the match. Good work from Mandeep Singh in the build up to the goal. That's most likely the end of South African challenge in the match
Q3: India 3-0 South Africa
Richard Pautz fluffs his lines! After a promising attack from South Africa in the early minutes of the third quarter, the South African finds himself in a yard of space, but whacks the ball into orbit. Krishan Pathak isn't tested.
This was expected and Graham Reid will be a happy man. South Africa tried their best to slow India's game but it didn't work. India are leading 3-0 thanks to goals from Harmanpreet and Varun Kumar. South Africa need a strong start in the second-half.
Penalty stroke for India and Harmanpreet Singh makes no mistake from the spot. South Africa defender stopped Birendra Lakra inside the D and umpire decided to give a penalty stroke. Don't think South Africa can make a comeback in this game.
It's a full house at the Kalinga Stadium and they are happy to see India leading the match 2-0. Meanwhile, a good chance for South Africa to score their first goal, but Sreejesh does enough to save the shot from close range.
Good job from India. Attacked right from the word go and ended up scoring two goals thanks to penalty corners. South Africa had one decent chance just at the end of first quarter, but the Indian goalkeeper did well to deny the goal. '
Another penalty corner and another goal from India. Too much power in the shot from Harmanpreet Singh and the goalkeeper just couldn't stop it. Everything is working according to the plan for Graham Reid and India. 2-0 up before the first quarter.
Q1: India 1-0 South Africa
This first quarter has none of the frenetic pace that made the semi-final between India and Japan an absolute thriller. The South Africans have done well to slow down the game a little. They're still struggling to get anywhere near India's goal, but they don't look to be in constant danger.
GOALLL! Just two minutes on the clock and Varun Kumar gives India the lead. Once again, India's early pressure worked in their favour. It was the game's first penalty corner and Varun hits a powerful low shot to goalkeeper's left
Q1: India 0-0 South Africa
And we're underway here at the Kalinga Stadium! There's not much on the line in this match other than pride, but both teams have shown incredible spirit over the course of the tournament, and this could be a fiery affair!
India start favourites in summit clash against South Africa, but hosts must look to minimise errors
"Indian hockey’s solo acts are playing well. Coming together in bits and pieces of co-ordinated moves, they were good enough to see off Asian Games Champions Japan 7-2 in the semi-finals on Friday. For Graham Reid, that won’t be enough."
Click here to read more of Sundeep Misra's preview of the final.
In the third place playoff match, Japan defeated the US in an exciting game. The match ended 4-2 in favour of Japan but the scoreline doesn't tell the full story. A minute was remaining when the US equalised to make it 2-2, but then Japan scored two in quick succession to take the game away.
It's the final of the FIH World Series. India take on South Africa. If the rankings are any indication, India should have it easy against the African side. But finals are different ball game altogether so we never know.
Hello and welcome to Firstpost's coverage of the FIH Series Finals final between India and South Africa!
South Africa, having beaten the United States of America in the semi-finals thanks to a last minute goal, will face India in the finals of the Bhubaneswar leg of the tournament. Both teams have secured their participation in the Olympic qualifiers by virtue of making the finals.
LatestUpdates: Penalty stroke for India and Manpreet Singh makes no mistake from the spot. South Africa defender stopped Birendra Lakra inside the D and umpire decided to give a penalty stroke. Don't think South Africa can make a comeback in this game.
Preview: India outplayed reigning Asian Games champion Japan 7-2 to storm into the summit clash of the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament on Friday, assuring themselves a place in the year end's Olympic qualifying event.
Returning to the side after a long injury lay-off, Ramandeep Singh (23rd, 37th minutes) finally got his mojo back with a double strike, while Harmanpreet Singh (7th), Varun Kumar (14th), Hardik Singh (25th), Gursahibjit Singh (43rd) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (47) also registered their name on the scoresheet.
Japan's goals were scored by Kenji Kitazato (2nd) and Kota Watanabe (20th).
India will face South Africa in Saturday's final while Japan will square off against USA in the third-fourth place play-off match.
South Africa had earlier defeated USA 2-1 in the first semi-final.
For the first time in the tournament, the Indian defence was literally tested as world no 18 Japan gave a good account of themselves in patches.
To the dismay of the home crowd, Japan took the lead in the second minute from a counter attack. Kitazato slammed home past Indian goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak after receiving a pass from Kenta Tanaka from their first attack.
The stunned Indians got their act together quickly and created a flurry of opportunities. Young Gursahibjit Singh was guilty of wasting a golden chance in the fifth minute from close range after he was beautifully set up by Nilkanta Sharma and Ramadeep.
Two minutes later, India secured back-to-back penalty corners and Harmanpreet equalised from the second chance.
The Indians kept up the pressure and earned three consecutive short corners in the 14th minute and this time Varun beat Japan defence with a powerful grounded flick to hand the hosts a 2-1 lead.
But the Japanese caught the Indian defence off-guard once again in the 20th minute with another fine counter-attack when Watanabe scored after being set up by Kazuma Murata.
Japan's joy was shortlived as India restored their lead three minutes later through Ramadeep, who scored his first goal for the country after returning from a year's injury hiatus.
Ramadeep scored with his trademark deflection from the near post after a Gurinder Singh pass from the right flank.
Minutes later, India made the scoreline 4-2 when Hardik scored with a slap shot from the top of the D.
India secured their sixth short corner soon but Varun's effort was defended by Japanese goalkeeper Yusuke Takano.
Next it was PR Sreejesh's turn to show his skills in front of the post when he denied Shota Yamada with a diving save from Japan's first penalty corner.
After the change of ends, the play was mostly on the Japan half as India kept up the pressure to score three more goals.
First Ramandeep scored his second of the day in the 37th minute with a rebound from a penalty corner and then Gursahibjit and Vivek Sagar Prasad also sounded the board from field efforts to register an emphatic win for India.
The FIH Series Finals provide two spots in the Olympic Qualifiers to be held in October-November this year.