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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Diwakar's hat-trick helps India colts beat Argentina

A hat-trick by birthday boy and captain Diwakar Ram helped India juniors beat world champions Argentina 3-2 in the opening hockey Test at the Ciudad Club de Buenos Aires on Monday.

India suffered some early scares with Argentina exhibiting electric forays before they settled down and then Diwakar converted two penalty corners to lead 2-0 at the break.

India forward Jay Karan was set up by midfielder Vikas Sharma inside the striking circle before he was obstructed by Nahuel Salis. The resultant penalty corner was converted by Diwakar with a low dragflick past goalkeeper Ezequiel Olivero in the ninth minute.

Argentina tried to find the equaliser and earned their first penalty corner. However, even though custodian Mrinal Chaubey warded off the attempt from Augustin Cabrera, the umpire ruled it illegal, resulting in a penalty stroke.

Chaubey rose to the occasion as he foiled Santiago Montelli's strike with precision.

India continued their domination with more firepower from the flanks. They had their rivals caught on the wrong foot with strikers Danish Mujtaba and Amir Khan engineering crafty moves.

Another orchestrated attack got India its second penalty corner in the 19th minute and Diwakar made no mistake.

India maintained the same tempo upon resumption even though coach A.K. Bansal made rapid substitutions.

Argentina conceded another penalty corner in the 55th minute which the Indian skipper converted clinically in the roof of the net.

A few missed traps in the defence spurred Argentina to seize their opportunities as they scored two goals in quick succession in the 64th and 67th minutes through Alan Andino and Agustin Mazzilli.

India, however, held out until the final minutes as Argentina went all out in the hunt for the equaliser and won 3-2.

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