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India lucky to snatch point from South Africa
Our Correspondent | September 09, 2006 19:15 IST
India went through several agonizing moments before settling for a 1-1 draw with South Africa in the men's hockey World Cup in Monchegladbach, Germany, on Saturday.
After two defeats, to Germany and England, the Indians picked their first point in the tournament, while South Africa too earned their first point after losing to the Netherlands in their opening outing.
It was another late goal that did India in, though it must be said the 1-1 draw was not a true reflection of South Africa's ascendancy in the match. Had goalkeeper Adrain D'Souza not come up with some good saves, the 1975 champions may have well suffered their third successive defeat.
India's showing was lacklustre. They did little of note to create an impression on the South African defence and the only time they seriously threatened was in the 14th minute when they scored. Otherwise, goalkeeper Chris Hibbert had a leisurely time under the bar.
India's goal was the result of a fine piece of opportunism by Ignace Tirkey, who drove the ball home from the top of the circle after Tushar Khandekar made a good run down the right to the base line and relayed the ball back. Tirkey, who trapped the ball just on the line, quickly dispatched a stiff shot that beat the South African keeper hands down.
That lightning move raised hopes of an attacking display by the Indians, but it was not to be. There was no urgency or purpose in their play. The South Africans pressed forward in numbers and always had the Indian defence under pressure. Credit must be given to young defender R Raghunath, who played his first match in the senior ranks, for the maturity he showed in tackling and assisting Dilip Tirkey, though he was guilty of using the overhead ball too often without any direction.
With a minute to go for the breather, South Africa forced their first penalty-corner, but Ian Symons' high flick was well-saved by Adrian.
Adrian was again to the rescue 11 minutes on resumption in the second half, padding two successive hits from Andrew Cronje.
However, he was beaten off the third penalty-corner, four minutes from time, when Symons' flick got deflected off his right hand and found the net.
The South Africans almost clinched victory a minute later but Adrian was again well-positioned to save a stiff shot from Thornton McDade.