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Asian Champions trophy | India held to draw by feisty Koreans

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© Hockey India

Asian Champions trophy | India held to draw by feisty Koreans

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Bastab K Parida


India were held to a 1-1 draw in their second match of the Asian Champions Trophy today by South Korea. Korea surged ahead with the first goal in the 11th minute despite India’s domination,but the Blues equalized early in the second half through Lalit Upadhyay to enforce a draw.

First half

After defeating Japan by a convincing margin of 10-2 in the first encounter of the Asian Champions Trophy 2016, India started the game against former South Asian champions South Korea at a slow pace.

But, the Korean forward line pressed the Indian defense far up the line, and that reaped rewards in the first quarter. In the 11th minute, Korea managed to intercept India’s pass from the back at the midline. After moving the ball swiftly from the midfield, Korean forward Junwoo Jeong received the ball outside the D, moved into the circle, and whacked his forehand to send it successfully into the far post. India’s attempts to score an equalizer in the first quarter failed despite their many chances in the opposition circle.

India started with more positive intent in the second quarter. They managed to thwart Korea’s counterattacks, and soon, Birendra Lakra and Lalit Upadhyay induced an error to give India a Penalty corner. Rupinder Pal Singh, who scored six penalty goals in the last game against Japan, tried his hand, but a brilliant save from the Korean Goal-keeper deflected that brilliantly to nullify the attempt.

However, the continuous quest for the equalizer kept India in fray as they attacked the Korean defense again and again. Despite having 6 shots on target to Korea’s 2 and 17 circle penetrations to their opponents’ 6, India failed to find the final touch and went into the break down a goal at 0-1.

Second half

The equalizer for India arrived in a flash early in the second half. The move started down the right wing as Nikin Thimmaiah pierced the circle singlehandedly dancing past three defenders before passing to Lalit Upadhyay in front of the goal. Lalit shifted the ball around to his left with delightful control and sent the ball into the net with a stunning backhand to make it 1-1 just 2 minutes into the half.

India’s assault at the Korean goal continued for the next 3 minutes, but it was Korea who found themselves a penalty corner at the 10-minute mark. After the first found the body of Indian defender Surender Kumar, Korea almost took the lead. Despite a failed trap, Korea pushed the ball ahead, and in the melee, Hyeongjin Kim managed to get to the ball and take a shot which missed the goal by just inches. India were still in the game.

India had anxious moments in the 9th minute of the quarter, but Sreejesh did well to deflect the shots at goal on both occasions to keep India in the match. With ten seconds to go for the end of the quarter, India received a penalty corner, but Rupinder’s drag-flick sailed wide of the right bar to keep the teams locked at 1-1 going into the final quarter.

India missed another lovely chance to go ahead in the 49th minute. Lalit deflected a cross that came into the D from the right flank, and the ball fell to Chinglensana who was feet away from goal and had only the goalkeeper to beat, but his delay allowed the Korean defender to clear the ball. The game soon drifted into a series of half-chances as both teams struggled to find the final touch despite multiple forays. The Blues had a great chance with just 10 seconds to go for the final hooter, but the Korean defence managed to clear the ball. The Indians, however, asked for a referral in search of a corner, but the desperate search was turned down.

India lost the initiative but came back with an equalizer in an evenly fought match that finally ended in a draw.

India will next face Pakistan in their third match tomorrow at 4 PM in a high-voltage encounter.

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