A scrappy India wasted chances galore as South Africa dished out a spirited performance to beat the hosts 3-1 in the third hockey Test in New Delhi on Thursday and keep alive their hopes in the five-match series.
With the Olympic qualifiers less than a month away, India coach Michael Nobbs yet again fielded a new look team in search of combinations, and the changes quite evidently reflected in the performance of the home team.
South Africa, on the other hand, seemed to be getting their acts together slowly and steadily after the 0-4 drubbing in the opening Test, as the performance of the visitors got better and better with every match.
South Africa put the Indian defence under pressure from the word go and their efforts bore fruit in the 21st minute when India conceded a penalty stroke, which was easily converted by Lloyd Madsen. The visitors then doubled their lead just at the stroke of half time through Ian Haley.
India pulled one back in the 49th minute when Sandeep Singh converted a penalty corner out of the four they earned in the match.
But the joy was short-lived for the Indians as Craig Haley scored a field goal when he tapped home a cross from the left flank six minutes later to restore their two-goal lead.
Expectedly, India coach Michael Nobbs was utterly disappointed with the performance of his boys and said the team had to pay the price for carrying a "lot of passengers".