Three goals in the first quarter by India were not enough to dampen Argentina’s spirits as the reigning Olympic champions came back with a vengeance to draw the second practice match 4-4 in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. Varun Kumar (7th minute), Rajkumar Pal (13th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (14th) struck in the first quarter to rattle the hosts, but Argentina, after their 3-4 defeat in the opening match on Tuesday, came back strongly to score through Leandro Tolini (10th), Lucas Toscani (23rd), Ignacio Ortiz (42nd) and Lucas (57th) to snatch a draw.
In an action-filled match, Argentina negated India’s three-goal lead in the dying minutes of the third quarter with Ignacio Ortiz scoring in the 42nd minute (3-3). But within two minutes of Ortiz’s goal, Varun Kumar had again snatched the lead for India. However, Lucas’s 57th-minute goal put paid to the visitors’ hopes of going 2-0 up.
Earlier, India made a fine start with a well-structured attack. The first goal was courtesy forward Mandeep Singh who helped India earn a penalty corner in the seventh minute, which was effortlessly converted by drag-flicker Varun Kumar. The early goal put the home team on the back-foot but they bounced back in the 10th minute with Leandro Tolini converting a penalty corner.
Two strikes within a span of one minute by Rajkumar and Rupinder again tilted the balance in India’s favour.
The second quarter was a sedate affair with both teams trading penalty corners but neither really getting a good look at the goal. Argentina’s Lucas Toscani scored a field goal in the 23rd minute to narrow the lead to 3-2.
Argentina eventually succeeded in scoring the equaliser with their attacking midfielder Ignacio Ortiz giving little opportunity to the goalkeeper to stop the firmly-hit penalty corner. The 3-3 equaliser didn’t dampen India’s spirit as they successfully scored the fourth goal via forward Dilpreet Singh who made a successful foray into the striking circle, earning India a PC in the 44th minute. Varun made no mistake in converting it into a goal to give India the lead again.
The last quarter was a battle of nerves with the home team going all out and managing to earn a penalty corner in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, which was well saved by goalkeeper Krishan Pathak. But he could do little to stop Lucas’s field goal in the 57th minute.
India will now face Argentina in the FIH Hockey Pro League match on April 11.