India on song, beat Holland 3-2

Captain Diwakar Ram struck a brace as an energetic India exhibited flair and fluency to beat Holland 3-2 in the Under-21 hockey 'Test' match.

updated: December 13, 2008 16:15 IST
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Buenos Aires, Argentina:

Captain Diwakar Ram struck a brace as an energetic India exhibited flair and fluency to beat Holland 3-2 in the Under-21 hockey 'Test' match at Club Ciudad de Buenos Aires on Saturday.

Diwakar scored with the dragflicks in the 17th and 51st minutes while right winger Mandip Antil scored a field goal in the 24th minute.

India were in total command of the proceedings with dominant midfield play and ball possession as they rapidly interchanged positions and baffled the Dutch with superb off the ball moves. They led 2-0 at the lemon break.

Holland, who were at sea during most part of the match, got both goals from penalty corners in the 43rd minute and at the stroke of full time.

India brought in Belsajar Horo and Amardeep Ekka in the central midfield replacing Vivek and Vikas Sharma. The hard working Horo controlled his space with elan not only with his accurate distribution but also timely interceptions to deny Holland create sorties.

Manjeet Kullu and Birendra Lakra lent good support on the lines keeping a tight man to man vigil. India repeatedly tore past the Dutch defence as Danish Mujtaba, Jay Karan and Mandip Antil engineered numerous attacks.

They should have taken an early lead but Jay Karan failed to connect a sitter from winger Dharamvir Singh.

This was followed by Mujtaba's attempt, but he shot wide.

Diwakar opened the account for India from the first of his three penalty corners with a low flick to the left of goalkeeper Sam Van Der Ven.

India accelerated their pace with short accurate passes catching their opponents on the wrong foot with dodges and body feints.

It was only a matter of time before they increased their tally as Horo received a pass from Diwakar to set up Antil. The Sonepat lad made no mistake as he fired home from the top of the semi-circle and thus scored his third goal of the tour.

Holland had an opportunity to reduce the margin before the break but Mrinal Chaubey brought off a good save to foil a penalty corner from Mink Van Der Weerden.

India conceded another penalty corner eight minutes into the half when Diwakar's stick check was found illegal. This time the Dutch found the mark as Martijn Havenga sank in off a defenders deflection.

Unrattle by this reverse, India mounted pressure with with superb overhead passes on the flanks. They cut through into the circle with effortless ease but failed to score as Dharamvir first hit the post and then Jay Karan lobbed over the bar with only the custodian to beat Another opportunity went abegging shortly after as Jagwant Singh shot out.

But the Indian skipper did not disappoint as he forcefully beat Van Der Ven with a low flick to give India a 3-1 lead as they continued their grip on the game.

A consolation goal came for Holland eventually as India gave away a soft penalty corner in the final minute.

The attempt by Van Der Weerden had enough sting and angle to beat the India defence.

Coach AK Bansal expressed happiness at today's result and said "the boys played to their potential and hopefully will show the same in the last game too".

India who are unbeaten on this tour will play their last match against Argentina on Sunday.