Sreejesh helps India get away with a draw

Zafar Iqbal
Friday, 29 June 2018

If India got away with a draw, it was essentially because of Sreejesh, who had one of the busiest games of his career

Skipper PR Sreejesh and Lady Luck combined to help India hold out for a draw against Belgium. Having given away no less than 11 penalty corners India must consider themselves lucky that they conceded just one goal, that too in the dying moments of the game. In fact, if anything India were lucky to get away with a 1-1 draw and with it came a crucial one point in their fourth league match of the Champions Trophy in Breda.

The Belgian were attacking all through and more so in the last quarter.
Depending on how India fare against the Netherlands in the last league match, India still have a chance to get into the finals. India has seven points, the same as Australia, who meet the Netherlands in the final game. The Dutch have six points from three games.

India had a good game against Pakistan and they managed to hold on for a 2-1 win against Olympic champions Argentina, but against Belgium, who are not having a great tournament, India were fortunate to grab a point despite scoring early in 10th minute and holding on to that lead for next 49 minutes. They conceded the equalizer with just around a minute left.

In this time and age, when teams work so many different strategies to convert penalty corners, it is beyond belief that an European team like Belgium could get just one goal after earning 11 penalty corners.

India, too, got around half a dozen, and converted one early in the 10th minute game through Harmanpreet Singh, who got his third goal of the tournament.

India got a whole lot of chances, and they did everything except put the ball into the goal. At this level of the game, just as no team can afford to give away so many penalty corners, they can also not waste so many chances.

If India got away with a draw, it was essentially because of Sreejesh, who had one of the busiest games of his career. He was tested for almost the whole game and even more in the final quarter, when Belgium, who were up against the wall trailing by one goal and there were less than two minutes on the clock.

They finally got the breakthrough in the 59th minute when Loick Luypaert converted. And just seconds before the hooter Sreejesh saved India from defeat with one more save of the 11th penalty corner.

Sreejesh, whose work is always outstanding was even more so this evening. But for him, India could have been at least three to four goals down. Indian forwards also need to be a clever while taking shots at the opposing goal.

They had chances galore, but invariably shot straight into the goal and at times they delayed taking the shot.

Earlier Pakistan heaped a humiliating 4-1 defeat on Argentina.

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