A brilliant first half followed by a clumsy, chaotic second before regaining control was the story of Indian men’s clash against Netherlands in their second FIH Pro League match here on Sunday and the final result, a 2-2 draw, was a reflection of the performance on field. The mandatory shootout saw India take a bonus point and its second win on the trot.
The World No. 1 side was always expected to be much tougher but to its credit, the host held their structure for the first two quarters. Sitting deep in defence and accelerating on counter-attacks, the Indians kept the opposition at bay, not yielding space or pace.
The Dutch used long balls both on ground and in the air to bypass the midfield crowd but were unable to get past the resolute Indian defence. At the other end, India managed a couple of PCs in the 12th minute but couldn’t make them count.
Till Hardik Singh decided to step up and break the deadlock a minute later. Running along the middle on a counter, Hardik found Sukhjeet on the right, got it back on reverse and shot into the goal through the smallest of gaps between the goalkeeper’s pad and post.
Manpreet’s desperately diving clearance in the final minute before break was deemed deliberate to concede Netherlands’ 2nd PC, Jip Janssen making no mistake to level.
Whether it was the reason or the Dutch switching gears, the Indians seemed to lose their structure and control on themselves and the game in the second half.
Suddenly, the Dutch seemed to a lot more threatening even as the Indians began getting wayward.
The 3rd Quarter was all about Dutch dominance and they unsurprisingly went ahead, Koen Bijen slapping home a sharp rebound off a PC in the 39th.
India finally brought back a semblance of control in the 4th and had a couple of open chances till Harmanpreet got the equaliser, two minutes from time.
In the day’s other match, Australia looked set for an easy win after taking a 3-1 lead against Spain before the latter fought back in the 3rd Quarter, getting two goals in as many minutes to level scores before Lachlan Sharp got his second and the team’s fourth to ensure full points for Australia.
Australia 4 (Lachlan Sharp 9 & 52, Jake Whetton 19, Blake Govers 25) bt Spain 3 (Marc Miralles 29, Nicolas Alvarez 36, Verdielle Pol Cabre 37); India 2 (Hardik Singh 13, Harmanpreet Singh 58) drew with Netherlands 2 (Jip Janssen 30, Koen Bijen 39).