India, though losing to the Netherlands 3-2 will fell proud of the start to its campaign in the Hero junior World Cup hockey tournament at the National Stadium here on Friday.
The 3-2 verdict in pool C in favour of the Dutch side might have earned the European side three points, but India left the field with a lot of positives for the matches to come.
For the way the Indians rallied to hold off the stout Netherlands in the second half was commendable, especially being down to 10 men in the last minutes of the keenly-contested encounter.
The Dutchmen dominated from the outset and pumped in a goal as early as in the third minute. The Netherlands forwards cut through the Indian defence and Milan van Baal completed the move.
Ten minutes later, India fought back to restore parity from its second penalty corner. Drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh’s military precision shot beat the Netherlands defence.
The Dutch reply was even more lethal. Under relentless pressure and change in tactics from the European side, the Indian resistance crumbled.
Mark Rijkers’ utilized a spectacular revese flick from close in the 25th minute and van Baal completed his brace as the Indians lacked in clearing the ball quickly.
The host reworked its strategy and spread out its players and held on to the ball better after the change of ends.
A fine move upfront narrowed the gap seven minutes after resumption.
Ramandeep Singh provided a well-measured pass to Akashdeep Singh and the flamboyant strikers beat two Dutch defenders to launch a narrow angle reverse hit and make it 2-3.
The results: Pool A: Belgium 3 (Maxime Capelle 30; Arthur van Doren 45; Alexandre van Linthoudt 70) bt Germany 1 (Christopher Ruhr 62); Pakistan 3 (Muhammad Irfan 4; A.S. Butt 30; Muhammad Tousiq 66) bt Egypt (Ahmed Mohsen 60, Mohamed Ragab 63).
Pool B: Australia 5 (Justin Douglas 14; Frank Main 16; Daniel Beale 17; Jeremy Hayward 42; Casey Hammond 49) bt Argentina 2 (Joaquin Leonel Coelho 31; Gonzalo Peillat 64); France 4 (Hugo Genestet 23; Simon Martin Brisac 24, 28; Pieter van Straaten 38) bt Spain 3 (Alvaro Iglesias 8; Albert Beltran 23; Ricardo Sanchez 63).
Pool C: Korea 7 (Inwoo Seo 2, 16, 37; Seungju You 7, 31, 42; Minyoung You 49) bt Canada 4 (Vikramjeet Sandhu 22; Gordon Johnston 52; Jannu Mahal 58; Oliver Scholfield 59); Netherlands 3 (Milan van Baal 3, 28; Mark Rijkers 25) bt India 2 (Gurjinder Singh 13, Akashdeep Singh 42).
Pool D: Malaysia 3 (Muhammad bin Saabah 6; Muhammad bin Baharom 37; Firhan Ashari 63) bt New Zealand 2 (Kane Russell 11, 47); South Africa 2 (Andrew Manson 34; Dylan Swanpoel 59) bt England 1 (David Goodfield 14).
Saturday’s matches: Belgium vs Egypt (2 p.m.); Pakistan vs Germany (4 p.m.); Korea vs Netherlands (6 p.m.); India vs Canada (8 p.m.).