A spirited India broke their 33-year-old medal jinx in a major international tournament as they came back from two goals down to stun defending champions Netherlands in the shoot-out after both the teams were tied 5 -5 at regulation time in a thrilling bronze medal play-off match of the Hockey World League (HWL) Final in Raipur on Sunday.
India last won a medal in an international tournament way back in 1982 when they beat Pakistan 5-4 in the Champions Trophy in Amsterdam.
In the shoot-out, the Indians prevailed over the Dutch 3-2 at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Stadium and the win avenged India’s 1-3 defeat against the Netherlands in the pool stages of the tournament here.
After starting the match on a slow note, India produced a fine show in the last two quarters to beat the world number two side with their relentless attacks in the second half.
Netherlands were quick to take a 2-0 lead in the first half, courtesy some sloppy defending from the Indians when Mirco Pruisjer (9th minute) and Niek van der Schoot (25th) scored two field goals to silence the capacity crowd.
It was a high intensity match which produced as many as six goals in the last 10 minutes, three each to India and Netherlands.
The Indians, however, got their acts together after the change of ends and Ramandeep Singh (39th minute) scored from a field strike before Rupinder Pal Singh Singh converted a penalty corner in the 47th minute to level the scores.
With both the teams tied at 2-2, the fourth and final quarter produced enthralling hockey as India attacked the Dutch citadel with more purpose and vigour and it resulted in another field goal for the hosts when Ramandeep (51st minute) scored his second of the day to silence his critics.
The last six minutes of the game produced as many as five goals with Netherlands equalising three minutes later through Van der Weerden (54th) who converted a penalty corner.
But in the very next minute Rupinder scored his second of the day when he perfectly converted a penalty stroke.
It was raining goals as India took the lead in the next minute when Akshdeep Singh (56th) found the back of the Dutch net to give India a 5-3 lead.
But the Dutchmen did not sit back and fought back valiantly to score two goals in the last two minutes to take the match into shoot-out.
Final positions: 1: Australia; 2: Belgium; 3: India; 4: Holland; 5: Argentina; 6: Britain; 7: Germany; 8: Canada