The home side came back from a two-goal deficit at half-time and then held their nerves in the shootout.
The Indian men’s hockey team dug deep to win their second consecutive game against the Netherlands in the FIH Pro League, emerging 3-1 victors in a shootout at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday after the sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in regular time.
The home side, fresh from a resounding victory on Saturday, were again the team to create the first chance of the game even though their opponents were the ones to start.
SV Sunil forayed into the circle from the right and passed into Mandeep Singh, who could not get a shot away and neither could Sunil when it came back to him. The Indian India hockey team fluffed two more chances, ones which could be easily termed howlers.
Lalit Upadhyay, star of the previous game, received the ball in space down the middle but reversed it wide of the goal. A few moments later, with the goal gaping, he could not tap it in as the ball bounced awkwardly just before it came to him.
India continued to pile on the attacking moves, earning a penalty corner from which Rupinder Pal Singh dragged just wide while skipper Manpreet Singh’s close-in cross was also deflected away from the posts, as the teams ended the first quarter goalless.
The Netherlands started the second quarter cautiously as they concentrated on making calculated moves through the flanks instead of directly attacking down the middle. It did not pay off though as the home side again looked the most likely ones to take the lead.
The raucous home crowd almost blew the roof off when Sumit played a superb diagonal pass to Mandeep Singh, who seemed surprised that the ball had reached him and hit his shot straight into the Dutch goalkeeper.
Despite so many chances for the Indian hockey team, the first goal of the game was scored by the Dutch as late as the 24th minute. Mirco Pruijser won a penalty corner when he hit the ball into Surendar Kumar’s leg, who tried to evade it a couple of times but was unsuccessful.
The chance was expertly put away by Mink van der Weerden, who drag-flicked it into the top-left corner, giving Krishan Pathak no chance. The home crowd did not have to wait long to cheer though.
India responded precisely two minutes later, with Birendra Lakra putting the ball on a diagonal platter for Lalit Upadhyay, who diverted it through his legs to equalize.
The Dutch seemed unfazed by the early response as they quickly restored their lead and doubled it for good measure. They moved the ball around in the circle and Jeroen Hertzberger showed good instincts to reverse it into the goal when the others were busy appealing for a penalty corner.
The forward turned provider for the third goal, crossing it in for Bjorn Kellerman, who found himself all alone and had no problems in deflecting it in through Krishan Pathak’s legs to score a classic goal.
Dutch coach, Max Caldas, recognized that playing short, calm passes to not cede possession to the Indians worked best for his team and asked his side to continue with that strategy in the third quarter.
It paid off as the Indian hockey skipper Manpreet Singh, in his attempts to retrieve the ball, raised his arm to catch Lars Balk square in the face. It was deemed dangerous play by the referee, who asked the former to sit out for 10 minutes.
The Oranje won a penalty corner soon after, which was smartly saved by veteran custodian PR Sreejesh, who was making his 230th appearance for the Indian hockey team. The visitors could not quite take advantage of the extra man, with the third quarter going goalless.
The Indian hockey team, bolstered by the return of Manpreet Singh, enjoyed a lot more possession in the fourth quarter but were erratic in their play and could not quite penetrate the Dutch defence.
They earned a penalty corner with 50 minutes on the clock and while the drag-flick did not work out, Mandeep Singh was alert enough to put the rebound in to set up a pulsating finish.
The equalizer came five minutes later when Gurjant Singh made a successful video referral to give India another penalty corner and Rupinder Pal Singh scored his third penalty corner in two days to complete the fightback.
With the game ending 3-3 at full time, the result was decided by a shootout from which the Indian hockey team emerged 3-1 victors courtesy Vivek Prasad, Gurjant Singh and Akashdeep Singh, who managed to score past the brilliant Sam van der Ven in the Dutch goal.
The Netherlands keeper, who saved from Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh, was let down by his forwards as only Mirco Pruijser managed to get past PR Sreejesh with Jeroen Hertzberger, Thierry Brinkman and Glenn Schuurman all fluffing their lines.