India went down fighting to Belgium in the final of the four-nation hockey tournament at Mount Maunganui in New Zealand on Sunday. Belgium won 2-1 to remain the only undefeated team in the event.
Earlier on in the round robin league matches, Belgium had beaten India 2-0.
Tactically strong and strategically shrewd Belgium was definitely a better side against the young fast improving Indian team. It was a game of pulsating hockey in which the Belgians took the early lead.
After forcing a penalty corner in the second minute, Belgians made clear of their intentions of not allowing Indians to settle down. It was with this game plan that they took the lead in the fourth minute and sustained it till the breather.
Though India was able to restore parity early in the second half, but Belgians hit back and took the lead again a few minutes later. Holding on to the slender one goal advantage, the Europeans thwarted a couple of penalty corners in the last quarter. Though India withdrew Sreejesh in last five minutes to push in extra offender, it did not work.
Now the teams move to play a return four-nation tournament.