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India, Belgium draw first hockey Test

Source: PTI
July 14, 2010 15:28 IST
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Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh's twin strike went in vain as India were held to a 3-3 draw by Belgium in the first hockey Test at Temse, Belgium.

Sandeep converted two penalty-corners in the 26th and 28th minute of Tuesday's match, while the third goal was scored by Vikas Pillay (58th minute).

For Belgium, Jeff Thys (13th minute), Jerome Truyens (48th) and Thomas Briels (59th) were the goal-scorers.

The second Test between the two sides will be played at Antwerp On Thursday.

In Tuesday's encounter, Belgium began strongly with an attack by Greg Gucassoff after being set up with an overhead pass from his captain Truyens, but the danger was waived off momentarily by an alert Indian goalkeeper, P Sreejesh.

Shortly after, Belgium created a fast break through the centre but Cedric Charlier's short went wide off the target.

India also missed an opportunity to take the lead when Vikas Pillay fumbled on the edge of the Belgium circle after receiving a diagonal cross from Sandeep.

Belgium too wasted another opportunity after Thomas Briels snatched the ball from Gurbaj Singh but his one-touch pass to Thys was hit wide.

With both teams struggling to control the ball on the new turf, India mounted an attack from the left flank through Dharamvir Singh, Danish Mujtaba and Ravi Pal. The trio penetrated the Belgian striking circle but Dharamvir's well-taken shot was saved by goalkeeper Jeremy Gucassoff.

Belgium, however, took the lead in the 13th minute through Thys, courtesy a miscommunication between Indian custodian Sreejesh and Gurbaj.

The goal came as a wake-up call for the Indians, who soon swung back into attack with one-touch passes and earned their first of four penalty-corners, but Dhananjay Mahadik pushed the ball wide off target from an indirect conversion.

Sandeep was the bright spot in the Indian back line. Manning the defence in the absence of injured Sardar Singh, he came up with crisp passes to set up many attacks.

It was Sandeep who first found the equaliser for India in the 26th minute and then gave the visitors a 2-1 lead two minutes later from another set-pieces.

Belgium, however, restored parity in the 48th minute when skipper Truyens found the mark from a penalty-corner.

But India again surged ahead with Vikas Pillay finding the back of rival net 10 minutes later after being set up by Hari Prasad, only to witness Briels restoring the parity in the very next minute.

India would have conceded another goal at the fag end of the match, but Birendra Lakra Jr brought off a goal-line save.

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