The Indian men's hockey team suffered their first defeat in the Four National Invitational tournament, losing to Belgium at the Blake Park on Thursday.
The Indians failed to convert any of the four penalty corners and goals by Sebastien Dockier (8th minute) and Victor Wegnez (34th) ensured Belgium stayed on top of the game.
Both teams played out an exciting first quarter, though it was Belgium who constantly tested the Indian defence, moving the ball swiftly while creating plenty of opportunities in the striking circle.
Their first big attempt came in the fourth minute when Belgian forward swiftly smashed a reverse hit to the post but goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who is making a comeback from a long injury haul, made an impressive save.
Four minutes later, a circle penetration by Belgium saw Dockier demonstrate a classic reverse hit to put the ball into the post, leaving little chance for Sreejesh to save.
The 1-0 lead in the eighth minute put India on the backfoot. In the 12th minute, however, India found a golden opportunity to equalise when forward Ramandeep Singh won the team the first PC of the match, but the chance went begging, as the ball could not be stopped at the top of the D.
A compact Belgian defence slowed down India's attack in the second quarter. But relentless Indian forwards worked in packs as they kept up their hunt to find a successful penetration.
Seven minutes into the second quarter, India's moment to score was created by colts Armaan, Vivek Prasad and Mandeep who worked in tandem in front of the post forcing Belgian defenders to make an error.
The attempt resulted in the second PC of the match for India. However, Harmanpreet Singh's dragflick was defended by Belgium's first runner.
Minutes later, forward Ramandeep Singh made another foray into the Belgium circle, brimming hope of a conversion, but his nudge was high up, though Mandeep got a stick on it, the ball bounced off the cross bar.
Belgium continued to lead 1-0 as the teams went into the half-time. India will take on New Zealand in their third match on Saturday.