HWL: India goes down fighting against the Dutch

While Akashdeep Singh (28') was the lone scorer for India, Thierry Brinkman (2'), Sander Baart (12') and Mirco Pruijser (24') scored for The Netherlands.

India fought hard before losing 1-3 against higher-ranked Netherlands to suffer its first defeat in the Hockey World League League Semifinal here today.

While Akashdeep Singh (28') was the lone scorer for India, Thierry Brinkman (2'), Sander Baart (12') and Mirco Pruijser (24') scored for The Netherlands.

The loss, however, did not make any impact on India's chances in the tournament as they had already qualified for the quarterfinals before today's encounter as it had registered wins in its first three games. Netherlands topped Pool B with an all-win record from four matches, while India finished second with three wins from four games.

The first 15 minutes saw Indian goalkeeper Akash Chikte put under the pump right from the start with Dutch strikers keeping him busy. Though the young custodian stood up to the challenge with some brave saves, he was taken by surprise when Dutch defender dispossessed Sardar Singh to set up Thierry Brinkman who scored the first goal for The Netherlands in the 2nd minute.

The next few minutes saw the Indian defence live up to the task of keeping the ever-dangerous Billy Bakker under check. However, in that pursuit, Surender Kumar unfortunately fouled which resulted in the Dutch winning their first penalty corner. Sander Baart, in his first PC attempt of the tournament, fired low on the right to double The Netherlands lead to 2-0 in the 12th minute.

With a little over three minutes for the first hooter, a quick-thinking S.V. Sunil successfully appealed for a PC. However, the opportunity could not be utilised as Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was blocked away by the first runner.

With both teams in top gear, the second quarter saw two spectacular goals. First, it was Sander Baart on a counter attack who set up Mirco Pruijser to score his team’s third goal of the match in the 24th minute. Four minutes later, Akashdeep Singh who was denied minutes before when he took a reverse hit on goal, brought India back into the game.

Though the Dutch dominated with ball possession, Indian defenders were spot on to keep them from making successful penetrations. Despite a few strong attempts on goal, India could not find the gap with the quarter ending goalless for both teams.

India will take on Malaysia on Thursday while Netherlands will face China in the quarterfinals on the same day.