The Indian men's hockey team put up a spirited performance in their opening match of the London Olympics 2012 against Netherlands on Monday, but the Dutch proved to be the better team on the day, prevailing in a tense finish to win the match 3-2.
India were clearly the second-best team on the park in the first 35 minutes after Robert van der Horst (20th min) and Roderick Weusthof (29th min) had put the Dutchmen ahead 2-0. The two teams went into the dugout with the same scoreline at the half-time hooter.
However, India came out in the second half having sorted their midfield play and scored twice in the space of three minutes through Dharamvir Singh (45th min) and Shivender Singh (48th min) to draw level.
But three minutes later, in the 51st, a counter-attack by the Netherlands resulted into a penalty corner and Mink van der Weerden made no mistake to make it 3-2, which proved to be the winner in the end.
India suffered from a lack of coordination in the first half, which saw Sardar Singh not in his top form. However, the centre-half came into his own in the last 35 minutes to show his class, which brought India level.
In the first half, India continued to lose possession near the Dutch circle, which resulted in just one PC, which was one of the only two India earned in the match. India left a lot of holes in their defence in the first half while trying to play attacking hockey. However, it didn't yield any goals and rather resulted in India going two goals down.
The second half saw a different India as Michael Nobbs' boys rattled the Dutch defence with some incisive moves that helped them draw level by the 48th minute. With 22 minutes still left to play, India could have forced a win but instead conceded a goal off a penalty corner, which proved to be the winner in the end.
The striking trio of Tushar Khandker, Shivender Singh and SV Sunil was also off colour, which cost India heavily. Also, India couldn't earn enough penalty corners. They wasted the two they earned, while Netherlands converted both of theirs into goals.
India need to finish among the top two in Pool B to reach the semi-finals. They next play New Zealand on August 1.