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India go down to Holland in semis
June 23, 2006 15:00 IST
Last Updated: June 23, 2006 19:56 IST
India's hopes of winning the 15th Sultan Azlan Shah eight-nation hockey tournament were dashed when they lost 0-1 to formidable Netherlands in the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
A 64th minute penalty-corner conversion by Roderick Weushtof sealed victory for the Netherlands. Incidentally, it was the first Dutch conversion in the tournament.
The Dutch thus made their maiden entry into the final of this tournament where they meet Olympic champions Australia, who trounced New Zealand 7-1 in the other semi-final.
Grant Schubert (2), Luke Dorener (2), Matt Naylor, Travis Brookes and Dean Butler scored for Australia. Richard Petherick converted a 69th minute penalty-corner to provide some consolation to the Kiwis.
India paid dearly for their defensive approach in contrast to the more positive Dutch, who had the better of the exchanges in a match that began in rain and ended in bright sunshine.
But the Indians did not feel the sun on the backs and in the closing minutes, the deep defence that had performed admirably for over an hour, succumbed to pressure, leading to the penalty-corner that Weushtof converted with a neat drag-flick.
India did have their chances, but some wayward shooting denied them success. Ironically, they received just one penalty-corner, in the 42nd minute, but their drag-flick Sandeep Singh specialist was on the bench at that time, having been substituted a little while earlier.
Dilip Tirkey's direct hit was deflected out for an abortive corner.
The Indian forwards had a few pot-shots at the Dutch goal but with little conviction, and the few times they got it right, goalkeeper Klaas Veering stood up to the challenge.
Much of the first-half was a cat-and-mouse affair with neither team prepared to go flat out. Though the Dutch appeared more positive and forthright in their approach, the few penetrations they made into the Indian circle proved unsuccessful.
The Dutch had three clear attempts at goal but first Roger Hofman hit wide and then Weushtof was off the mark while in between Teun de Nooijer essayed a reverse hit that goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza blocked easily.
At the other end, the Indians, as cautious and intent on keeping possession, were more circumspect. They did put together a few good moves, but could not convert a couple of openings.
Gagan Ajit Singh hit wide at the end of a fine left-wing attack a little after Shivendra Singh had burst through in a solo run only to lose possession at the top of the circle.
The trend continued in the second-half, but the first signs of cracks in the Indian midfield appeared. Two mistakes by Vikram Pillay and Viren Rasquinha nearly resulted in goals for the Dutch, who then gradually gained the upper hand.
The Indians squeezed in a few dangerous moves but Hari Prasad's attempt was parried by Veering and a couple of other counter-attacks came apart inside the striking circle.
The second semi-final was virtually a no-contest as the Aussies, winners here four times, including the past two years, set a cracking pace from the start to overrun the Kiwis, who had no answer to the muscle power of their arch-rivals.
Saturday's matches: (IST)
0500: Argentina vs Malaysia (for 7-8 positions)
0700: Pakistan vs Malaysia (for 5-6 positions).