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PCG 2009: Disjointed India manages to draw the Dut (2/5/2009)
--K. Arumugam
Individual brilliance of a couple of players apart, India had nothing to show, yet could manage to pocket a point against the Dutch. The ultimate score-- 2-2 -- does no justice to the young Dutch side, who by and large dominated the proceedings with precision hockey.

The Dutch's moves were geometrical, measured, and were constructed move by move. Diagonal and parallel passes, short but effective overhead scoops, almost precise traps, they held the ball purposefully, rotating at required pace. Indians on the other hands were harried a lot, in a hurry to score.

As and when the Indians got the ball, they moved fast only to be intercepted at critical spots, say close to D whereas with crosses and pushes from the midfield the Dutch made their moves with less sweat and toil. Expectedly, India's rivals penetrated the striking circle with a striking regularity, at least thrice more than the hosts.

It was apparent that the Dutch would score any time, and if it was not there till three minutes from the haltime, it was due to some extraordinary goalkeeping by Chandigarh hero Baljit Singh.

Once after Jeroen Hertzberger (Neth) opened the scoreboard in the 33rd minute, Shivender equalized in the melee barely two minutes after the lemon time. The architect of the goal was Arjun Halappa, whose grounder seemed to have entered the D, but once Shivender struck again into the goalmouth, the umpire had no option than to blow the whistle.

14 minutes later, defender Geert-van Derikx (Neth)converted his team's third penlaty corner to take lead again, only to be nullified 3 minutes later by Prabhjot Singh.

Netherlanders got a couple of penalty corners after that, but Baljit was upto the task. One occasion, he could foil all three shots at goal.

Prabodh Tirkey at left-half found his feet at last, and was instrumental in keeping the otherwise nippy right flank in check.

Vikram Pillay has once again shown why he is Engine Room of Indian team. With daring clearances, covering maximum ground, and with crowd applauding interceptions, he was among the few who seemed to strike a chord with the team's cause. He was fittingly declared Man of the Match

India and Netherlands' first leg encounter too was a draw (4-4). With this draw, both the teams are expected to be in the final.

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