Hockey

India fights back for a draw

SUCCESSFUL SQUAD: The victorious Indian team members posing with the trophy after Test Series agianst South Africa on Sunday. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

SUCCESSFUL SQUAD: The victorious Indian team members posing with the trophy after Test Series agianst South Africa on Sunday. Photo: R.V. Moorthy  

India again staged a fightback to hold South Africa to a 3-3 draw in the fifth and final match of the hockey Test series at the National Stadium here on Sunday. The draw helped the host win the series 3-1.

South Africa took a 3-0 lead at half-time through strikes from Ricky West (26th minute), Ian Haley (31st) and Miguel Da Graca (34th). India wiped out the deficit with goals from Yuvraj Walmiki (43rd), V.R. Raghunath (49th) and S.K. Uthappa (66th).

India, fielding Danish Mujtaba, Rupinderpal Singh and Manpreet Singh (who were making a comeback from injuries and fitness-related issues), tried to keep possession and control the pace. The plot, however, went wrong as a slack defence allowed South Africa take the upper hand. The tourist sprung surprises with some quick attacks and scored three within a span of seven minutes.

The ever-active Julian Hykes beat the crowd inside the circle to pass it from right and West completed the formalities. Haley fired in off a defensive lapse to extend the lead, while Da Graca made the most of a Taine Paton cross to expose the Indian backline.

Sreejesh'frank views

Goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, who made some brilliant saves, was frank about his fellow defenders. “Because of their mistakes I was making mistakes in the first half. However, they supported me well in the second half.”

India showed more urgency to bounce back after the break. The first goal came off a S.V. Sunil move from right. Sardar Singh provided the ball to Walmiki and he found the target without any hesitation.

Raghunath converted the side's fourth penalty corner before Uthappa utilised a Sarvanjit Singh cross to eke out a draw.

Positive sign

India's chief coach Michael Nobbs said the fightback was a positive sign ahead of the Olympic qualifier. “We have been coming from behind for the last five months. It is a good team, it will take time to become a great team,” he said.

The Australian said, after having sealed the series, the players should have showed more professionalism instead of being complacent. “They thought the series had been won. I got very angry with them in the half-time and fielded a tighter defence.”

Nobbs said the players needed to work on “simple tactical things” and was confident that these could be fixed up when the main team started to train together.

The result: India 3 (Yuvraj Walmiki 43, V.R. Raghunath 49, S.K. Uthappa 66) drew with South Africa 3 (Ricky West 26, Ian Haley 31, Miguel Da Graca 34).

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 5:16:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/India-fights-back-for-a-draw/article13376914.ece

Next Story