The Indian men's team produced yet another strong showing to claim the bronze medal at the Hockey World League (HWL) Final being held in Bhubaneswar. India beat Germany 2-1 in the 3rd/4th classification match on Sunday to claim their second successive bronze in the tournament. India had finished third in the last edition of the tournament in Raipur in 2015. It was a brilliant performance from the hosts as they defeated the same team that had blanked them 0-2 in the group stages. However, the performance lacked the spirit and energy that the Indians had showed against Belgium and Argentina and if it wasn't for illness and injuries to the Germans, the scoreline could have been very different.
The hosts took the lead through SV Sunil's brilliant strike in the 21st minute. Germany, however, equalised when Mark Appel scored a 36th-minute field goal much against the run of play.
When it seemed that the match would head into the shoot out, Harmanpreet Singh scored from a penalty corner in the 54th minute to help his team regain the lead.
The hosts managed to keep the Germans at bay for the rest of the match to claim third spot.
However, it would be a bittersweet victory for the Indians with the German team severely depleted by illness and injuries to key players.
Before the start of the match Germany had already lost five players to illness and injuries. The Germans, who had 13 players at their disposal in he semifinal against Australia on Saturday, lost another two to illness and had to make do with 11 in the bronze medal match against India.
Germany reserve goalkeeper Mark Appel played as an outfield player due to the severe shortage, and his goal just went on to show the spirit in this German outfit.
Despite all this, the Germans put the Indian defence under immense pressure and had as many as 13 attempts at goal as against the home team's 12.
The Europeans also had more penalty corners than India, securing seven to the hosts' four.
The Indians were lacklustre and below-par today and had it been a full strength German side the script of the match could very well have been different.
(With PTI Inputs)