India's junior men's hockey team lost a hard-fought game 2-3 to the Netherlands in a group stage encounter at the 8-Nations U-21 Invitational campaign here on Tuesday. In the first quarter, it was the Netherlands who snatched the initiative early with Jim van de Venne scoring in the 5th minute.
Despite the early setback India played an attacking game and looked for an equaliser. But the teams went into the break separated by the single goal.The game took off in the second quarter with both teams attacking with vigour and their defensive qualities being pushed to the brink. It was India who scored first when Vishnukant Singh got the equaliser in the 23rd minute.
But within three minutes, the Netherlands restored their lead as van de Venne converted a Penalty Corner to get his second goal of the game. The teams went into half-time with Netherlands leading 2-1.After the break, both sides played with more intensity and high speed but again the Netherlands managed to score a goal through Derck de Vilder in the 32nd minute.
India, however, did not let their shoulders drop and kept the pressure up. Their play yielded results soon as Koen Bijen picked up a green card in the 36th minute, leaving the Netherlands a player short on the field. India capitalised on the advantage almost immediately with Sudeep Chirmako capping off a superb move to reduce the deficit to one goal in the 37th minute.
India went into the final quarter in an attacking mode but the Dutch defence was more than up to the task, and despite a Valentijn Charbon yellow card in the final minute, the Netherlands had the last laugh. India play Spain next in a group stage encounter on June 13.