Sandeep stars for India

Hosts grind out a 2-1 victory over South Africa

A penalty corner conversion by drag-flicker Sandeep Singh in the dying minutes gave India a slim 2-1 victory against a vastly improved South Africa in the second match of the five-match ‘Test’ series.

well done! Sandeep Singh (second from right) celebrates after scoring against South Africa in the second ‘Test’. pti

India, who introduced nine changes in the match to try out various combinations before the Olympic qualifiers, was put ahead by Chingelnsana Singh (33rd) before Lance Louw (43rd) evened out things. Sandeep’s flick in the 68th minute gave the hosts a decisive lead.

The Proteas were far better organized than in the opening match, their passes were fluent, and with a tight man-to-man marking, they hampered the Indians’ movement.

Indians, persisting with their attacking style, created a few good chances but found it difficult to breach the defense line.

The South African strikers, especially Lloyd Norris Jones and Julian Hykes, made the most of a sloppy Indian defense with their frequent raids but goalkeeper Bharat Chetri staved off the danger with some good saves.

It was a stiffly played first half and it looked like the teams would go for the break without a goal to their names but when Sandeep dribbled his way to the top of the line, deftly dodging a line of defenders, and set up Chingelnsana, who pushed the ball in, that was not to be.

South Africa, however, returned with vigor, and their efforts were rewarded with three successive penalty corners which they failed to covert.   It was not long before, when Louw, lurking near the goal, stuck home with accuracy.

It triggered desperate attempts from the Indians to claw their way back but the South Africans defenders were unrelenting. However, just when the match looked to near a predictable end, India were handed their third penalty corner.

Captain Tushar Khandkar, playing in his 200th match, sent the pass to Sandeep, who came up with a clean strike.

Coach Michael Nobbs said the team made a lot of silly errors. “It was a  new combination which had not played together before. We were not thorough in whatever we did, whether it was trapping or passing. In fact, South Africa made more frequents raids in our circle in the first half.”

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