India fought well but lost to the Netherlands 2-3 in a Pool C match of the Hockey Junior World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Friday.
The Indians conceded three field goals in the opening half as the Netherlands scored twice through Milan van Baal (3rd minute, 28th) and once through Mark Rijkers (25th) to make life difficult for the hosts. For India, Gurjinder Singh (13th) converted a penalty corner while Akashdeep Singh (42nd) scored from a field effort.
The Indians started on a bright note but as time progressed they fizzled out, allowing the Dutchmen to take control over the proceedings. Netherlands stunned the handful of cheering home supporters present at the floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on a chilly evening by striking the first goal in the third minute. Runners-up in the last edition of the tournament in 2009, the Netherlands stamped their authority early when Vos Pelle set up the ball for Milan van Baal to push it in.
India, however, reacted immediately, earning a penalty corner in the fourth minute but Sukhmanjit Singh's drag flick was directed right at goalie Jan de Wijkerslooth, who had no trouble in blocking it.
The Dutch maintained ball possession for most of the first half and after the initial bit of pace, the match slowed down as both sides fought for possession. Goal scorer van Baal, in the meantime, got hit right on his forehead and had to head back to the dugout to receive medical attention. India made good use of the break as they headed straight for the Dutch goal and earned themselves another penalty corner in the 12th minute.
Gurjinder Singh did not disappoint and his accurate drag flick went straight into the goal. The young defender continued his good form as he helped India defend another Dutch counterattack by flicking the ball in the opposite direction in a dire situation. The Dutch took the lead once again as Mark Rijkers put in a deflected ball via a reverse flick. Van Baal, who returned to the pitch after receiving medical attention, scored his second goal of the match in the 28th minute to give his side a 3-1 lead at halftime.
The Indian side, which looked fast but an unorganised unit in the first period, returned strongly in the second half and scored another goal through Akashdeep Singh in the 27th minute. Seeing an almost empty Dutch half, Akashdeep moved forward and deceived keeper de Wijkerslooth, hitting a reverse flick which managed to reach the goal.
The 2001 champions took the fight to the Dutch half in much better fashion and kept the ball in their possession much more than the first 35 minutes. While advancing towards the Dutch goal, Mandeep Singh, however, got into a tussle with Rijkers, injuring him and receiving a yellow card from the umpire. The home team went all out in the last few minutes to earn the equaliser but failed.
Earlier, Pakistan managed to just edge past Egypt 3-2, leading 2-0 at halftime in a Pool A match while South Africa pipped England 2-1 in a Pool D match.