The Indian men’s hockey team put up a strong performance before the leaders went down 1-4 to the Netherlands in a shootout after both sides were tied 2-2 at regulation time to almost exit the FIH Pro League title race. Of on Saturday. India are still third with 30 points from 15 matches with only one match left. The Netherlands tops the table with 33 points from 13 matches, while Olympic champions Belgium are second with 31 points from 14 matches with two matches remaining.
Excellent hockey was performed between the two world class teams as India and the Netherlands competed against each other in every aspect of the game for a full 60 minutes.
Although the Indians had a good portion of the ball possession, at least in the first two quarters, and moved aggressively from the start, the Dutch relied heavily on counter-attacks to create scoring opportunities.
There was also a battle for supremacy between two of the world’s best goalkeepers, PR Srijesh and Perman Blake.
Both Sreejesh and Blake made significant savings on several occasions in the first two quarters to keep their team afloat.
But it was the Netherlands who took the lead in the 10th minute when Derek de Wilder gave Tejman Rainga a chance with some brilliant stickwork on the right, leaving two Indian defenders behind before knocking Sreejesh out of the house. Gave
The Indians put a lot of pressure on the Dutch defense with the word go and got two back-to-back penalty corners in the 10th minute but the home team’s defense was alert to thwart the threats.
After that, Abhishek had two great chances to give India the lead but on both occasions, Blake saved the Netherlands with a superb save.
India won another penalty corner a few minutes later but missed the opportunity.
If Blake was brilliant, veteran Sreejesh should not have been left behind as he refused to score for the Netherlands.
India equalized in the 22nd minute with another brilliant field goal from above Dilpreet Singh’s circle. He used the speed of Varun Kumar’s pass and put the ball in the bottom left corner under Blake.
The Netherlands got their first penalty corner in the 16th minute which was well defended by the Indians.
After the change of end, the Netherlands won two more penalty corners but failed to cross the Indian defense. India also won a penalty corner in the third quarter but missed the opportunity.
The fourth and final quarters were no different as the two sides met to take advantage of each other.
It was the Netherlands who finally took the lead in the 47th minute through a field strike by Queen Begin.
There was hardly anything to distinguish between the World No. 3 Netherlands and the World No. 3. 4 India.
The Netherlands won two more penalty corners with just over two minutes left in the game but lost both.
With 23 seconds left in the final, India won three consecutive penalty corners, the last of which was converted by Harman Preet Singh to level the score at 2-2 and take the match to a shootout.
But in the shootout, the Indians cut the tragic figure as the Netherlands scored on four of the five occasions, while only Vivek Sagar Prasad found the net for the visitors.
India and the Netherlands will play each other again in the second match of the double league tie on Sunday.
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