The Men in Blue got the maximum points courtesy of goals from Amit Rohidas and Hardik Singh, and excellent keeping from Krishna Pathak.

India is off to a great start at the 2023 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup defeating Spain 2-0. This was India’s first match at the newly constructed Birsa Munda International stadium in Rourkela, India.

There were two major talking points in terms of the rules in the entire match. 

1. Harmanpreet Singh’s penalty stroke 

India were leading (2-0) going into the second half against Spain when a back tackle from the veteran Spanish defender on Akashdeep Singh inside the circle earned India a penalty stroke. Harmanpreet Singh, the number one drag-flicker of the team, took the penalty stroke and for a moment it felt that the captain extended the lead with all the Indian players along with the spectators celebrating. Both umpires denied the goal as the Spanish goalkeeper stopped the ball and didn’t let it go past the goal line.

Harmanpreet Singh argued with the umpire which made the latter go for a video referral. The video referral did not have any conclusive evidence to overturn the onfield decision as the ball did not cross the goal line at any instance. For a goal to be awarded the entire ball has to cross the goal line which wasn’t the case here.

2. Spain’s referral in the final quarter

Spain requested a referral when the ball hit Manpreet Singh’s stick and went past the baseline.  According to one of the newest FIH rules, if a defender deliberately pushes the ball behind the baseline then the opposition team will receive a penalty corner. 

Spain argued Manpreet Singh deliberately pushed the ball outside but the video umpire gave the verdict in favour of India. The former Indian captain was just trying to guide the ball away from the playing area rather than deliberately pushing it outside the baseline. The decision could have also gone in Spain’s favour had there been another video referee. There have been instances before in the Men’s Pro League 2022-23 as well where the decision has created a few controversies. 

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