The Indian women’s hockey team held on to a 2-2 draw against the Belgium junior men’s team in a closely fought match in Antwerp on Tuesday.
India, led by captain Rani, started the match on a positive note by earning a penalty corner within 40 seconds of the start but could not convert it. Two minutes later, another penalty corner was saved by the Belgian goalkeeper.
However, it was the young Belgium team that got three PCs in a span of six minutes, but goalkeeper Savita did well to keep the home side from taking an early lead. Forward Vandana Katariya created a beautiful chance for India inside the striking circle but could not score as the first quarter ended goalless.
The second quarter saw both sides taking a more direct approach as Belgium enjoyed more possession which paid off for them as they took the lead through Stan Branicki in the 19th minute.
India soon earned a penalty corner but their effort was saved by the Junior World Cup finalists’ goalkeeper which meant Belgium led by a goal at the end of second quarter.
The third quarter started on a bright note for India as Nikki Pradhan levelled the score in 36th minute. India dominated the third quarter as midfielder Neha Goyal came close to scoring but was denied by another brilliant save by Belgium’s goalkeeper.
However, the home team took the lead again in the 43rd minute as they rallied for a wonderful field goal scored by Matthieu de Laet.
The Belgium junior men’s team started the fourth quarter swiftly as Indian goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu had to make a reflex save. The Indian team fought back into the match in the dying stages as Vandana Katariya (54th minute) scored with just few minutes left to full time and equalise the scores at 2-2.
However, Belgium were awarded a PC which was well saved by Rajani and cleared by defender Sunita Lakra. The home team forced Rajani into making yet another impressive save in the dying minutes as the Indian defence held on to a well-deserved 2-2 draw.
India will play Ladies Den Bosch in their third match of the Europe Tour on September 14.