CHANDIGARH: Showing glimpses of its potential, India, down 0-2, held the Netherlands 4-4 in the Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday.
The venue came alive in four explosive minutes as goals happened and frenzy gripped the audience at the Sector 42 Stadium. India and the Netherlands played vintage hockey that repeatedly had the spectators on their feet. The result did not quite justify the run of play that certainly favoured India.
The Netherlands had looked well in control with two early goals until the dazzling strike by Shivendra, who scored in the 29th minute with a piercing drive from the top of the circle. It was the angle that created confusion in the Dutch ranks. It was just the beginning of an Indian renaissance.
Wouter Jolie, who had defended with assurance, looked lost after Shivendra’s strike and was beaten twice as India launched relentless attacks through Rajpal Singh, Vikram Pillay and Arjun Hallappa.
When Tushar Khandker joined the forays the Dutch had a tough time.
Two minutes after it had scored the first goal, India earned a hit-in outside the circle. Sandeep Singh’s scorching hit was deflected by Prabhjot Singh. The audience had hardly settled when Khandker produced the goal of the match. He chased a through by the hard-working Shivendra and beat the goalkeeper with a deft placement. The pace set by India rattled the Netherlands, which improved overall in the second session, looking for rapid counter-attacks.
Some clever marking left India short of ideas and much was expected from Shivendra and Prabhjot. The Dutch were not going to concede easy ground this time but India wasted a glorious opportunity when Sandeep messed a penalty stroke in the 36th minute.
Soon the Netherlands hit back with an opportunistic goal in the 45th minute by Timme Hoyng, who slammed a long ball in. Rob Reckers (16th minute) and Laurence Docherty (27th minute) had scored the first two goals for the Netherlands.
As the evening grew cooler, the warmth came in the shape of India’s fourth goal when Rajpal Singh sent the ball in from a tap in and an alert S.V. Sunil left his mark on the gripping exchanges, scoring with a flourish. A hush fell on the stadium when the Netherlands equalised. India and the Netherlands have four points each from two outings now.
Earlier, New Zealand held Germany 2-2. New Zealand took the lead when Lloyd Stephenson scored from a penalty in the fourth minute.
It increased the lead in the 43rd minute through Blair Hilton. Germany, however, hit back through two goals by Tobias Lietz .
Monday is a rest day.