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India hold Argentina with late goal

December 12, 2008 09:47 IST

A last-minute equaliser from winger Pramod Kumar saved India the blushes as they drew 2-2 with World champions Argentina in the third under-21 hockey Test at the Club Ciudad de in Buenos Aires on Friday.

This was the second drawn encounter in the four-match series after India won the opener on Monday.

India led 1-0 at the breather but failed to score from six penalty-corners and messed up their attack with over indulgence in individual play.

They were indeed lucky to get away with the draw. Skipper Diwakar Ram was totally off colour and could not strike from his drag-flicks.

However, from his fourth attempt, Mandip Antil scored from a rebound off Argentina goalkeeper Ezequiel Olivero to give India the lead in the 32nd minute.

Earlier, the Argentine defence held out and foiled the onslaughts from strikers Jay Karan and Pramod Kumar. Two crosses from Danish Mujtaba went abegging as they were too angular.

Goalkeeper Olivero's good run under the bar continued as he repeatedly denied India the space to score.

Even though India were the more dominant side in ball possession, their central mid-fielders, Vivek and Vikas Sharma, left enough gaps to enable Argentina work their way into India's 23-metre area with short bursts of acceleration.

Their efforts bore fruit when Guido Barreiros converted two penalty-corners in the 64th and 67th minutes.

It appeared that India had thrown in the towel till a final sortie was mounted from the right. Pramod succeeded in pushing the ball home after a crowded goalmouth scramble to restore parity.

Coach A K Bansal was disappointed with the result, but hoped that his boys would come good and play to their potential in the remaining games.

India will now play a one-off Test against Holland at the same venue on Saturday.

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