Kolkata: Playing their second match of the European tour, the Indian Women’s Hockey team put up a valiant fight to fought out a 2-2 draw against the Belgium Junior men’s team at Antwerp, Belgium. Nikki Pradhan and Vandana Katariya scored for the India to earn a hard fought draw.
The Indian team led by captain Rani Rampal started the match brightly, with forward Vandana coming close to score in the opening fifteen minutes. Belgium was also not behind, winning three penalty corners in the first six minutes. But in-form goalkeeper Savita was up to the task, preventing the opposition from taking the lead.
The men’s team however got into the groove as the match moved on and rightfully took the lead in the 19th minute through Stan Branicki. Having gone a goal behind, the Indian ladies team started attacking upfront and almost equalised through a penalty corner. But, it was saved by Loic Van Doren who won the best goalkeeper award in the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup.
Playing aggressively, the visitors soon equalised in the 36th minute when Nikki Pradhan put one inside the net and could have eventually taken the lead, but midfielder Neha Goyel’s shot was again brilliantly saved by Loic.
Instead the home team took the lead against the run of play in the 43rd minute, courtesy a wonderful field goal by Matthieu de Laet. It almost looked like a win for the junior Belgium team but Vandana Katariya was present to spoil the party, scoring one in the dying minutes of the game to come back with a well earned 2-2 draw.
Both the goalkeepers Savita and substitute Rajani looked in fine touch making wonderful saves to keep the opposition at bay. In fact, playing in the second half, Rajani made few wonderful saves in the closing stages of the match much to the disappointment of the Belgium players.
India next take on the Dutch ladies Den Bosch club against whom they had lost in their opening match of the tour. The match will take place on the 14th of September at 21:30 hrs IST.