India, Spain share six goals in first Test

July 6th, 2012 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Santantder (Spain), July 6 (IANS) India and hosts Spain played out a vibrant 3-3 draw in the first hockey Test at the new facility at La Albericia here.

Ranked 10th in the world, India Thursday trailed twice but bounced back well in a match that, with a bit more luck and pluck, it could have won against the team that is ranked fifth.

The vastly experienced Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes made at least five brilliant saves in the final 10 minutes when India’s improved fitness came into play as the visiting side laid siege on the rival circle. Cortes also saved penalty corner drag-flicks by V.R. Raghunath and Sandeep Singh to ensure that that his team shared honours with India.

Quickly adapting to a blue turf that had perfect bounce, forward Tushar Khandker put India in the lead in the 11th minute by deflecting a cross from SV Sunil. But centre-forward Eduardo Tubau restored parity by capitalising on a pass from midfielder David Alegre in the 24th minute.

Spain took the lead seven minutes later when Sergi Enrique beat India skipper and goalkeeper Bharat Chetri with a penalty stroke that was awarded because the ball had struck SK Uthappa’s foot during a penalty corner exercise. India was in the arrears for just two minutes as Gurwinder Singh Chandi’s reverse flick off a rebound from Cortes’ pads found the mark.

Even though India made a number of circle penetrations, it was Spain that took the lead again in the 59th minute through a field goal by Tubau that capped some good work by Santi Frexia on a counter-attack. Three minutes later, Uthappa scored a field goal to help India draw abreast of the home team that enjoyed the support of a goodly crowd.

India and Spain will play the second Test Saturday evening.

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