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Rediff.com  » Sports » Plucky India lose to Netherlands in hockey opener

Plucky India lose to Netherlands in hockey opener

Last updated on: July 31, 2012 00:49 IST

Returning to the big stage after a gap of eight years, former champions India put up a brave fight before going down 2-3 to the Netherlands in their opening Group B match of the men's hockey competition at the Olympics on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Jamie Dwyer scored a hat-trick as Australia whipped South Africa 6-0, Beijing Olympics silver medallists Spain and Pakistan drew 1-1, while South Korea beat New Zealand 2-0.

Host nation Britain ended the day's programme trouncing Argentina 4-1.

The three goals tied Dwyer with Mark Hager as the country's all-timed leading scorer.

- London Olympics 2012 - Complete coverage

Ranked 10th in the world, the Indians meant business from the start and made the third-ranked Netherlands work hard to get their campaign off on a winning note.

The first half, however, did not go according to script for the Indians as, despite a plucky display, they went into the breather 0-2 down.

Robert van der Horst opened the scoring for the Dutch in the 20th minute with a fierce hit from the top of the circle and then Roderick Weusthof doubled the lead nine minutes later, converting a penalty-corner.

The Indians, however, came out with vengeance after the change of ends and scored twice within the span of three minutes to draw abreast.

Dharanvir Singh pulled a goal back in the 45th minute after capitalising on a rebound off the Dutch keeper and then Shivendra Singh tapped home from close quarters three minutes later, after receiving a ball from Gurvinder Singh Chandi, to set up a keen finish.

But, as with the earlier goals, again an unsettled defence allowed the Netherlands force a penalty-corner, in the 51st minute, from which Mink van der Weerden flicked home.

The Indians pressed hard in search of the equalizer, but despite troubling the Dutch defence time and again failed.

India will next play New Zealand in their second group match on Wednesday, while the Netherlands are up against Belgium the same day.