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|October 14, 2001||
Prodigal India held by ArgentinaOur Correspondent
India suffered a major setback in its campaign in the men's Junior World Cup hockey tournament after being forced to a 2-2 draw with Argentina in its opening mach of the second stage of the tournament, at the Tasmaninan Hockey Centre, Hobart, Australia, on Sunday.
The Indians, who finished on top of Pool C in the preliminary league, and with the highest number of goals scored among the 16 teams participating, failed to get going and paid the price for missed chances and wayward finishing. In the end, it was just fortunate that they managed to recover after being twice in arrears and pick a solitary point.
In other matches, England whipped Korea 5-2; Germany edged past Spain 2-1; Holland beat Australia 4-2; France beat Ireland 1-0, South Africa beat Chile 3-2 and Malaysia drew 1-1 with Scotland.
Argentina were overawed by the Indians in the first ten minutes. They were on the defensive from the start and were lucky not to concede a goal in the first ten minutes when the Indians made all the play.
India wasted their first penalty-corner, which came in the fifth minute, with Jugraj Singh pushing over. Then a minute later, hardworking midfielder Bimal Lakra made a good run into the circle but reverse hit into the side caging. In the ninth minute, it was Prabhjot Singh's turn to come up with a similar run but he too reverse hit over the bar.
Such was India's hold that they should have been at least two goals up during the first quarter. But much against the run of play, Argentina struck from a penalty-corner, in the 23rd minute. Juan Gilardi needed none of those variations to find the mark. His bullet-like shot from the top of the circle entered the Indian cage even before goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan his teammates could react.
The reverse saw the Indians step up the pressure. And despite Argentina crowding their defence, they restored parity six minutes later when Deepak Thakur chose to go all alone and slam the ball home.
India had a couple more of chances in the remainder of the first half, but stout defending by the Argentines prevented them from splintering through.
The second session was the same story. Prabhjot Singh, Bipin Fernandez and Arjun Halappa had clear looks at the goal but just could not score.
Then, like the first half, Argentina scored much against the run of play, in the 63minute. Gilardi was again on target, this time with a good drag flick.
Argentina appeared to have wrapped up the match till Bipin Fernandez came up with a fine piece off opportunism five minutes from time to slam home a rebound following a penalty-corner and save the day for India.
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