India draw 3-3 with Belgium in 1st hockey Test
New Delhi: Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh's twin strikes went in vain as India were held to a 3-3 draw by Belgium in the first hockey Test match at Temse, Belgium.
Sandeep converted two penalty corners for India in the 26th and 28th minute of the match yesterday, while the third goal was scored by Vikas Pillay (58th).
For Belgium Jeff Thys (13th minute), Jerome Truyens (48th) and Thomas Briels (59th) were the goal-getters.
The second Test between the two sides will be played at Antwerp.
In yesterday'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 the teams struggling to control the ball in the new turf, India mounted an attack from the left flank through Dharamvir Singh, Danish Mujtaba and Ravi Pal. The trio penetrated into 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 the four penalty corners but Dhananjay Mahadik pushed the ball wide off target from an indirect set up.
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 Indian 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 piece.
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 too were little lucky not to have conceded another goal at the fag end of the match with Birendra Lakra Jr making a goal-line save.