V.R. Raghunath successfully converted a penalty corner to help the Indian hockey team hold South Korea 2-2 in its first match of the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh on Sunday.
India scored through Nikkin Thimmaiah (11th minute) and Raghunath (56th) while South Korea got their goals from Hyesung Hyun (25th) and Seongkyu Kim (53rd).
Paul van Ass-coached India started positively in the first quarter of the game and attacked from both the flanks but they were impeded by the Korean defence.
The high spirited Indian team took the lead and scored the first goal of the match in the 11th minute through Thimmaiah’s field goal.
Putting all efforts to equalise the scores, South Korea’s counter attack was cleverly quelled by defender Birendra Lakra who tactfully swept the ball outside and cleared for India. India dominated the first quarter and the score read 1-0 till the first 15 minuets.
At the start of the second quarter, India kept attacking the Korean defence as Dharamvir Singh passed the ball to Ramandeep Singh who surged ahead but his attempt was saved by the Korean goalkeeper.
Some good interplay was seen between the Indian boys but all their efforts went in vain when Korea hit the equaliser in the 25th minute by Hyun who flicked inside the net to go 1-1 into the half-time.
Unfolding the third quarter, India comfortably went on attack, not giving the Korean team an easy time. But the Koreans showed their attacking skills and defender Rupinderpal Singh was called into action.
India’s goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh seemed to be a bit cautious on the rival flanks when Korea attempted twice and saved them successfully. By the end of the third quarter, the scores were deadlocked at 1-1 .
In the last quarter, the game reached an intense phase where both the teams were evidently under a constant pressure to score. The momentum shifted towards the Koreans in the 53rd minute and they took the lead through Kim’s field goal.
India equalised as Raghunath successfully converted a penalty corner in the 56th minute and managed a 2-2 draw. On Monday, World No.9 India will face World No.7 New Zealand. (IANS)