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India outclass maiden finalists Belgium 2-1 to clinch their second Hockey Junior World Cup title after a 15-year-Gap

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Lucknow, Dec 18, 2016: Home favourites India produced a clinical performance here on Sunday to outclass maiden finalists Belgium 2-1 and clinch their second Hockey Junior World Cup title after a 15-year-gap.

Gurjant Singh (eighth minute) and Simranjeet Singh (22nd) scored the two goals for India, who had won their previous Under-21 world title in 2001 in Hobart, Australia.

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Belgium scored the reducer at the death via Fabrice van Bockrijck at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here. The goal didn’t matter much for India as it was the final action of the match.

With this win, India became only the second nation after Germany to win the Under-21 title more than once. Germany, who overpowered Australia 3-0 to secure the third spot on the podium, have won six titles.

With both the teams coming into the match unbeaten, the contest was expected to be an enticing competition between two bands of talented youngsters.

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And it were the hosts who looked to be the better side from the very beginning. Urged on by a vociferous crowd in Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, India got off to an emphatic start.

Varun Kumar’s long aerial ball in the Belgian circle forced Belgian goalkeeper Loic van Doren to come out but he couldn’t fully palm the ball away with Gurjant lurking near him. The Indian took the ball to the left, dodging past van Doren before employing a ripping back-hand strike from a very tight angle that hit the top corner of the far post, giving the hosts the early advantage.

India’s midfield, led by Harjeet Singh, did a fine job of restricting and breaking the flow of the Belgian game.

One such fine example turned into the second goal for India as link-man Santa Singh caught short an opposition counter-attack few metres ahead of the half-line before making a cross-field pass to his left. Nilakanta Sharma fed Simranjeet at the top of the circle and the latter delivered a clinical finish, giving no chance to van Doren, to make it 2-0.

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Towards the end of the first half, Belgium had their moments but couldn’t make their chances count as India defended as a team. The Belgians even earned a penalty corner but they couldn’t trouble Indian custodian Vikas Dahiya.

Trailing 0-2, Belgium tried their best to turn things around in the second half but India’s superiority in one-on-one duels helped them keep things under control and hold their 2-0 lead.

Moreover, India’s balancing act in defending the two-goal advantage and pushing for the third goal was just perfect and captain Harjeet deserved all the credit for controlling the tempo of the game.

Gurjant had the chance to make it 3-0 when he won a battle with Martin Lambeau just five metres ahead of the Belgian circle. Gurjant faced a one-on-one situation against goalkeeper van Doren but the latter managed to keep the Indian at bay.

Later, India got two penalty corners to put an end to Belgium’s challenge in the match but penalty corner exponents Varun Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh couldn’t make them count.

Belgium, in their pursuit of pulling one back, kept fighting and eventually it came, with barely 22 seconds left on the clock. With the hooter already being blown, the penalty corner was the last shot of the game and van Bockrijck was successful in his job. But they couldn’t celebrate the goal, as the match ended, triggering huge celebrations in the Indian camp.

After the win, a delighted India captain Harjeet said that their success boils down to their long and arduous preparation they did for the last couple of years.

“It is a great victory and we deserved it. We had been preparing for the tournament very dedicatedly since the last couple of years. We have improved a lot tournament-by-tournament,” centre-half Harjeet said after the match.

“We stuck together as a group despite the difficulties and it has helped us. We played good hockey throughout the tournament and we got good support from the Lucknow crowd who supported us in good numbers here,” the senior Indian international added.

Meanwhile, in the bronze medal match, Timm Herzbruch inspired Germany to a 3-0 victory over Australia, with the 19-year-old attacker scoring twice for his side. Argentina were the winners of the 5/6 Place play-off, recording a 2-1 victory over Spain.

The Netherlands were comfortable winners of the 7/8 Place play-off contest, defeating England 6-2.

In the formal individual awards ceremony, Spain’s exceptional captain Enrique Gonzalez de Castijon was named as the Uttar Pradesh Best Player of the Tournament, while brilliant Belgian shot-stopper van Doren was given the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award.

Edward Horler of England took the HERO Top Scorer of the Tournament award thanks to an eight-goal haul. (IANS)

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Here’s Why India’s Premium Segment Leader OnePlus is Facing a Real Threat

With new brands entering its territory, OnePlus is looking at some real competition ahead

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Last year was an excellent one for OnePlus. Riding on its OnePlus 7 series, the Chinese smartphone maker led the Indian premium market with 33 per cent market share. Wikimedia Commons

The sudden push by the smartphone makers in the Rs 30,000 and above price segment in India is tantamount to the fact that this segment is the next growth arena and current market leader OnePlus will have to devise new strategies to counter new brands like iQOO 3 5G, Realme X50 Pro 5G and Samsung Galaxy ‘Lite’ series in months to come.

The India premium smartphone market currently contributes just 5 per cent but is growing faster than the overall market – at 30 per cent – and is estimated to grow even faster. “This means that the segment will have multiple brands to grow and co-exist at the same time. OnePlus should see this as an opportunity and look for areas to further differentiate it from its competitors in the Android camp. We believe Rs 30,000 to Rs 45,000 price segment still offer a lot of potential in India,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

Chinese smartphone maker Realme has launched its first 5G smartphone ‘X50 Pro 5G’ in India, available in two colours and three variants — Rs 37,999 (6GB+128GB), Rs 39,999 (8GB+128GB) and Rs 44,999 (12GB+256GB). The iQOO 3 5G device is available in three variants — 8GB/128GB with 4G connectivity for Rs 36,990, the 8GB/256GB 4G variant for Rs 39,990 and the 5G-enabled variant of the phone with 12GB/256GB storage at Rs 44,990.

The 6.7-inch Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal memory costs Rs 39,999 while Galaxy Note10 Lite is priced at Rs 38,999 for the 6GB variant and Rs 40,999 for the 8GB variant and both models come with 128GB internal memory. Last year was an excellent one for OnePlus. Riding on its OnePlus 7 series, the Chinese smartphone maker led the Indian premium market with 33 per cent market share. The company became the first-ever premium smartphone brand surpassing 20 lakh shipments in a year in the country.

But with new brands entering its territory, OnePlus is looking at some real competition ahead. Its brand images, however, is its biggest saviour, till now. “In the premium segment, brand plays a key role in helping users decide about the purchase. iQOO has no great legacy to showcase and it will have to prove its mettle which will take time. Realme started with the brand for masses and in premium segment, the pitch is not about offering more for less but about standing out distinctively,” Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC told IANS.

To counter the competition, OnePlus is likely to leverage its brand image to the fullest. “At the same time, OnePlus needs to work towards building an ecosystem-level approach to not only keep the existing user base intact but also acquire new users,” said Pathak.

Apple is also reportedly planning to launch a new smartphone in the very same category which may be called wither iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9. Apple reached a record 75.6 per cent market share in the fourth quarter of 2019 in India and the credit goes to the stellar performance of iPhone 11 and price drop on previous generation models.

OnePlus
The sudden push by the smartphone makers in the Rs 30,000 and above price segment in India is tantamount to the fact that this segment is the next growth arena and current market leader OnePlus will have to devise new strategies to counter new brands. Wikimedia Commons

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), in the premium ($500 or Rs 36,000 and above) segment, Apple reached a record 75.6 per cent market share. According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, IDC India, while the first half of 2019 was relatively slower for Apple, it managed to find growth in the second half.

“It happened on the back of price drops on previous generation iphone models (iPhone XR, 7, 8). This, along with affordability schemes like cashbacks, EMIs especially on the e-tailer platforms during festive quarter of Diwali, led to this growth,” Singh told IANS recently.

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All eyes are now on the upcoming OnePlus 8 flagship series, which will decide the fate of the brand’s leadership in the country. (IANS)