The South African Hockey Men had the opportunity to play their second test match of 2024 with another massive challenge taking on World number 3 India. The Indians have won every meeting between the two sides since 2012 including the most recent at the FIH Hockey World Cup in 2023. South Africa awarded a debut cap to Calvin Davis, who was one of the stars for the South Africans at the Junior World Cup in Malaysia.
India got off to the perfect start at a full SACS when Harmanpreet fired in a rocket of a penalty corner. South Africa were offered an instant opportunity to reply when they were awarded a penalty stroke for the infringement of an aerial ball in the first phase. Mustapha Cassiem stood over the ball but his shot was saved superbly by Pathak.
Despite the South Africans containing their highly fancied opponents fairly effectively in the opening quarter, they received a sucker punch conceding just before the break with an incredible counter attacking move made up of three passes to cover 70 metres and convert.
Gowan Jones was incredible for the South Africans in the first half facing 8 penalty corners and standing tall against an incredible Indian attack. There was little he could do for their third goal when another Indian counter was directed home just in front of Jones. 3-0 at the half-time break.
South Africa had their chances throughout the game with a number of penalty corners, but there was frustration at the inability to create and convert the chances. While the Indians showed why they are so highly ranked as they saw out the game without too much stress to secure the victory.
For the African champions there are many positives from their two test matches against Olympic Medal favourites, while also allowing a few players the opportunity to experience International hockey. There will definitely be some healthy battles within the team for a place in the Paris 2024 squad.