Credit: X

Credit: X

On Saturday, May 25, the Indian men’s hockey team delivered one of their best performances in recent memory to hold the Olympic champions Belgium to a 2-2 draw in the FIH Pro League match at the Wilrijkse Plein Antwerp. Although India were unable to secure the bonus point in the penalty shootout, which went the way of Belgium 3-1, their performance will give a lot of hope to fans going into the Paris 2024 in a couple of months.

After suffering a big 4-1 loss to Belgium in the FIH Pro League earlier match, India came out better prepared in both the attack and defence. The visitors took the lead in the 11th minute through a brilliant field goal from Araijeet Singh Hundal, but at the stroke of half-time, they conceded a penalty corner, which was put in the goal by Felix Denayer to make the scoreline 1-1.

The second half turned out to be just as pulsating as the first half with no clear-cut chances for both teams. Belgium managed to earn a penalty corner in the 50th minute which was converted by Florent Van Aubel to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.

India kept on pushing the Olympic champions for an equaliser, which came through a field goal from Sukhjeet Singh in the 57th minute. With the scoreline at the full-time reading 2-2, both teams went to a penalty shootout to decide who would take home the extra point from the contest.

The penalty shootout didn’t go the way of India with only Sukhjeet Singh finding his name on the scoresheet. For Belgium, only Arthur De Sloover missed, but his three teammates managed to score the goals to ensure Belgium took the penalty shootout 3-1.

In the FIH Pro League standings, Netherlands are currently in the lead with 26 points in 12 matches, while Australia, who are in second place, have collected 20 points in just eight matches. Argentina are in third place with 20 points in 11 matches, while India are in fourth place with 18 points in 11 matches.

After facing Argentina in their next FIH Pro League match in Antwerp on Sunday, May 26, the Indian men’s hockey team will take on Germany at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Center in London on June 1.