India Draw with Argentina, Clinch Hockey Test Series


Buenos Aires, Dec 15: In-form skipper Diwakar Prasad scored a brace as India rallied to draw 4-4 with Argentina in their final under-21 hockey Test to clinch the series 1-0 at Club Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

Apart from Diwakar, Danish Mujtaba and Jay Karan accounted for one goal each to help the team, which trailed 1-3 at half-time, draw parity on Saturday. India won the first match, while the remaining three ended level.

The visitors, who beat Holland on Friday, started briskly with good ball rotation and overlaps and the midfielders and forwards moving in tandem.

Their fluency was, however, checked by Argentina goalkeeper Federico Bermejillo as he blocked the initial attempts of Jay Karan and Pramod Kumar.

The visitors earned their first penalty corner in the seventh minute after an obstruction by Argentine defender Juan Manuel Pacheco.

Diwakar Ram unleashed his trademark low drag-flick which was latched on to by Danish Mujtaba on the rebound. The nippy Allahabad striker drew first blood to the delight of the Indian supporters.

Argentina immediately went into the offensive from their left flank and found the equaliser through a perfect deflection by Lucas Colombo in the 13th minute.

The hosts mounted pressure as Indian defenders Diwakar and Innocent Kullu committed unforced errors. In another sortie from the left they took the lead when unmarked Juan Cruz Agulleiro fired a rasping reverse past goalkeeper Mrinal Chaubey in the 18th minute.

India were unable to thwart the Argentina attacks and looked out of sorts as their rivals penetrated with regularity.

Agulleriro was again on target 10 minutes later, this time diving to a measured centre past the hapless Chaubey as Argentina took a convincing 3-1 lead at the crossover.

However, India showed a rare fightback in the second half as they not only wiped off the deficit but went into the lead.

Their fluency and flair resurfaced as they accelerated, orchestrating sparkling maneuvers in the Argentine 23-meter area. India were awarded their second penalty corner after the ball struck the foot of Felipe Oleastro.

Diwakar made no mistake in the 39th minute to reduce the margin. India continued to dominate but the third goal eluded them as custodian Bermejillo foiled attempts of Mandip Antil, Mujtaba and Jay Karan.

The Indian captain again added his name to the scorers sheet in the 59th minute from a penalty corner to make it 3-3.

As the match entered the final 10 minutes, both the teams threw caution to the winds and robust tackles held centrestage.

Argentina went on the offensive, but Belsajar Horo's interception resulted in a turnover which was executed by Jay Karan to perfection to give India a 4-3 lead in the 61st minute.

India should have increased their tally shortly after that but Antil preferred to push to the goalkeeper's pads rather than pass to unmarked Jay Karan in the middle of the circle.

Stung by this reversal Argentina looked for the equaliser and succeeded in getting a penalty corner hotly protested by India and also resulting with a yellow card for first rusher Manjeet Kullu.

Argentina captain Martin Gebhardt converted it with seconds on the clock. Indian coach AK Bansal said he was happy with the overall showing of his wards as they remained unbeaten on the tour.

"This quality exposure against top international teams was extremely beneficial in the build up for the Junior World Cup in Singapore and Malaysia next year," he said.

He further stated that they would try to rectify the errors in their next tournament in Australia in January. 


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Title: India Draw with Argentina, Clinch Hockey Test Series

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