India struggle to beat S Africa 6-5, lose series to Spain

Bangalore, Jul 10: A far-from-impressive India struggled to beat South Africa 6-5 in a practice match played at La Albericia in Santander, Spain on Sunday. The Indians clearly messed up their defence even as the strikers kept scoring at regular intervals. For India, Shivendra Singh, Dharamvir Singh and VR Raghunath were the scorers. For the African side, Austin Smith, Tim Drummond, Ian Haley and Justin Ross netted the ball.

The tie was an important one for India, which played three games in four days, to exhibit its fitness level against fresh opponents. Chief coach Michael Nobbs conceded that despite starting off well and dominating the opposition for a majority part of the game, the Indians could not maintain the tempo owing to complacency.

The first blow to the Indians came when the skipper, Bharat Chhetri faced suspension for tackling. The incident unsettled the Indians for the other goalkeeper was rested for the game. Ignace Tirkey was played in the goal for some time. South Africa also got a penalty strike at this time and made it 1-1.

Nobbs, however, praised Dharamvir for helping India get two goals within three minutes and go up 3-1 during the interval. But India played below par in the second half and conceded four goals against scoring three. India will play two more matches against the African opponents before taking part in a triangular meet, involving Spain and Great Britain.

India went down to Spain 1-2, lost series

On Saturday, India lost to hosts Spain 1-2 in the second hockey test in Santander after missing several chances. Spain bagged the two-match series 1-0 after the first game on Thursday was drawn 3-3. India, however, started the second match on a good note and went up 1-0 in the 28th minute after Sandeep Singh converted a penalty corner. Pau Quemada equalised for the hosts in the 34th minute and the score was 1-1 at half-time.

In the second half, both teams created several chances to score but could not add the finishing touch. Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh played a brilliant role in thwarting the Spanish attack. However, the hosts' perseverance bore fruit in the 69th minute when skipper Santi Freixa Lleonart converted a penalty corner to give his team a 2-1 lead. The guests found a couple of chances to level the scores but could not succeed.

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