Sandeep Singh scored four times but Canada [ Images ] took advantage of a fragile Indian defence to stage a late comeback and hold the visitors to a 4-4 draw in the third Test of the seven-match hockey series at the Tamanawis Park in Surrey, Canada, on Wednesday night.
Sandeep scored in the ninth, 18th, 31st and 45th minutes while Scott Tupper (2nd), Rob Short (66th) and Mark Pearson (68th and 70th minute) scored for Canada.
India [ Images ] continues to lead the series 2-0.
Canada began aggressively and took an early lead when the Indian defence conceded a soft penalty-corner in the second minute. Tupper sent the ball past goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza's right.
Rattled by the reverse, India took a firm grip on the proceedings soon after with forays from both flanks. The midfielders, led by skipper Tushar Khandker, propelled forwards Shivendra Singh, Rajpal Singh and Gurwinder Chandi into the Canadian danger zone.
A physical tackle on Rajpal Singh by Scott Sandison within the Canadian quarter line gave India their first penalty-corner, from which Sandeep restored parity.
Sandeep scored again nine minutes later after Shivendra was brought down by Canada's Gabbar Singh.
India continued to hold sway with Khandker, Dhananjay Mahadik and Arjun Halappa constantly moving upfront in tandem with the forwards.
Sandeep completed his hat-trick with a scorcher past custodian David Carter in the 31st minute after striker Roshan Minz found the foot of a Canadian defender.
Canada came close to reducing the margin shortly before the break but a penalty-corner attempt by Tupper was wide and Rob Short's open attempt was well-anticipated by D'Souza.
India held ascendancy initially in the second half with Rajpal missing the target with a reverse flick.
The Canadians replied with swift turnovers and won their third penalty-corner when Pearson was wrongly tackled by Bharat Chhikara. Wayne Fernandes's drag flick was well-saved by D'Souza.
Soon after, India were reduced to 10 men when Sarwanjit Singh was yellow carded for hitting the ball deliberately after the umpire had blown the whistle for an infringement against him.
However, despite this setback, India increased their lead to 4-1 in the 45th minute after a splendid Halappa-Prabhjot Singh move from the left flank was obstructed. Sandeep found the target yet again high to Carter's left.
However, the hosts continued to attack and their efforts bore fruit when they were awarded a penalty-corner after Prabhjot attempted to stop a long overhead with a raised stick four minutes from the end.
This proved to be the turning point as Short fired home to give Canada their second goal.
The Indian defence went into panic mode as Canada played long hard hits into the circle.
Deep defenders Sardar Singh, Sandeep and Chhikara were unable to thwart the Canadian onslaughts as Mark Person found the target twice in two minutes to level the match.
Indian chief coach Jose Brasa was visibly upset after the draw and said his defence had thrown away the match in the final minutes with irresponsible and unprofessional play.