Asian Games: Indian men go down to Taiwan in handball

Poor defending cost India the match, which it lost 31-35.

India's Davinder Singh in action during the 18th Asian Games.   -  AFP

India fought well but was ultimately outplayed by Taiwan in Group 3 match in the men’s handball competition at the 18th Asian Games here on Sunday.

The Indians were let down by some poor defending during a 31-35 loss in what was its third match in the group stage.

India are now second in the group with four points from three matches. Taiwan finished the group stage at the top spot with eight points, having won all their four matches.

India had started their campaign with an easy 45—19 win over Malaysia. They then edged out arch-rival Pakistan 28-27 in a thrilling contest which saw the winning goal being scored in the dying seconds.

The Indians will take on host Indonesia in its final group engagement on August 29.

Goalkeeper Kamaljeet Singh was one of the standout performers for India during Sunday’s match, pulling off a string of brilliant saves to keep the deficit within manageable limits right till the end.

India enjoyed the height and physical advantage allowing its forwards to score at regular intervals. But it was made to work hard for each goal by the well-organised Taiwan defence.

The occasional bout of poor coordination and some below par play on the wings also harmed the Indian cause.

Naveen Punia and Sachin Bhardwaj were the top scorers for India with five goals each while the experienced Greenidge D’Cunha got four.

But the real letdown for the Indian throughout this tournament has been its leaky defence. The defenders struggled to provide even a semblance of coordination during Sunday’s game. The man-marking was extremely poor and the occasional tendency to give the ball away resulted in the concession of soft goals.

Taiwan was easily the superior team since its technical and tactical ability was streets ahead of its opponent. Its tight, well-organised defence and the ability to create fast counter-attacks from the backline coupled with the lighting quick speed have seen it dominate all its group matches.