In the final match of this weekend’s FIH Hockey Pro League, the Indian men's hockey team attempted to repeat their performance from the previous day when they had beaten the reigning World and European champions Belgium in a closely-fought match but fell just short.
After defeating world number three the Netherlands in its opening two matches of the FIH Pro League, India beat world number one Belgium in a thrilling match on Saturday to continue its unbeaten run. But, this time, it was the Red Lions who won 3-2 after a high-paced, end-to-end and entertaining 60 minutes of top quality hockey.
Belgium opened the scoring through a penalty corner from Alexander Hendrickx but India equalised through Vivek Prasad and then, went on to take the lead when Amit Rohidas found the net. Belgium, on their part, showed why they are world champions and answered immediately with two goals from Maxime Plennevaux.
Speaking after the game, Belgium's Nicolas de Kerpel, who was awarded the Player of the Match award, said: "It [India] is always a really tough place to play. I hope the next time we play India, it is not so tough."
When asked about his team's penalty corner routine, de Kerpel said: "It is all about rhythm. If we get the rhythm then we have the best penalty corner routine in the world. We scored from one today, so I hope that we are getting into the rhythm now."
India's captain, Manpreet Singh, conceded that the team had had a lot to learn over the last two matches. He said: "I think we have learnt a lot of things over the two games. We had good opportunities but we didn't make the most of them."
He added: "I am really proud of the team. In our matches against Netherlands and Belgium, we started at a good pace from the first whistle and we are scoring in the first minutes. And we have good counter-attacks, so now we need to make the most of those."