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Late goal earns India draw with South Africa
March 18, 2006 12:17 IST
Defending champions India rallied splendidly after conceding two early goals to hold South Africa 2-2 in a Pool A league match of the women's hockey tournament at the 18th Commonwealth Games in Melbourne on Saturday.
Having started their title defence on the wrong note with a 2-4 loss to Australia, India seemed headed for another embarrassment when Henriette D Buisson struck in the eighth and 12th minutes for South Africa at the State Netball Hockey Centre.
However, Subhadra Pradhan found the mark once in each half (29th and 68th minute) to save India the blushes and fetch her team its first point.
The South Africans began with a flourish and 23-year-old Henriette exhibited her talent by converting a penalty-corner besides striking a field goal to leave a tentative Indian side gasping.
With their backs to the wall, the Indians carried out constant raids into the opponent's territory and forced several penalty-corners.
They pulled one back just six minutes before the half time when Subhadra converted a penalty stroke in the 29th minute.
The easiest of set pieces came India's way after a South African defender deliberately stopped the ball with her foot inside the circle following a penalty-corner.
India then played with ten women as their skipper Sumrai Tete was sent out temporarily for arguing with the umpire after Rajwinder Kaur's 'goal' was disallowed.
The Indians secured four penalty-corners in the first half but poor finishing proved their undoing.
The Indians returned after the breather on a mission as they put South Africa on the backfoot, launching relentless forays. They, however, failed to convert the brilliant moves from the flanks, choking at the goalpost.
The Indians forced six more penalty-corners but had to wait till the 69th minute to draw level.
Subhadra again stole the limelight as she displayed fine stickwork to fox the South African defenders before finishing off with a spectacular reverse flick, that went in to the right of custodian Caroline Jack, who otherwise put up a confident display.
The Indian eves had themselves to blame for not pocketing full points despite dominating the entire second session.
The post also stood in the way of the Indians in the 41st minute, with Mamta Kharab being the victim.
India have two more games to play in their Pool against Malaysia and Nigeria.