India go down 1-3 to Britain in first hockey Test

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Indian hockey team began their Europe tour on a losing note, suffering a 1-3 defeat against England in the opening match of the three-match Test series.

Updated: July 30, 2009 08:42 IST
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Indian hockey team began their Europe tour on a losing note, suffering a 1-3 defeat against England in the rain-soaked opening encounter of the three-match Test series here.

Ben Hawes (1st minute), Barry Middleton (18th) and Richard Smith (68th) scored for the hosts, while Dhananjay Mahadik (8th) reduced the margin for India.

After an opening ceremony that included the Lord Mayor of Birmingham meeting the two teams, the match got off amid torrential rain late last night and England got off to a perfect start with a goal inside 60 seconds when Ben Hawes' effort went in off Ajitesh Roy's stick.

Two minutes later England earned their first of 10 penalty corners but Ashley Jackson's effort was well charged down by the first runner Vikram Pillay.

India recovered soon and responded in kind, earning their first penalty corner six minutes later. Gurwinder Singh Chandi's pass found its way to Dhananjay Mahadik, courtesy VS Vinaya's dummy, and the Indian army man flicked it powerfully across James Fair and inside the post to equalise.

England took the lead again in the 18th minute after setting the foundations from their fourth penalty corner.

James Tindall shot powerfully from the top of the circle but after hitting the stick of first runner Pillay the ball went off the side deep in Indian territory. Barry Middleton seized the opportunity after the ball had ricocheted off Sandeep Singh's stick. With goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza struggling to readjust his position, the England skipper swept home while lying prone on the ground.

The slippery conditions made things difficult but India began to reassert themselves in the match. Unfortunately for the visitors a number of passes went astray with Indian forwards in good positions.

Into the second half and with the rain easing, India missed the chance of the match thus far after enterprising work along the right baseline by Chandi found Prabodh Tirkey in space at the back post but Tirkey hit the ball over.

India had another chance to restore parity six minutes into the second half but Fair saved a low and angular Sandeep Singh drag-flick.

India's pressure nearly told soon after when a bobbling shot from Shivendra Singh hit the post with Fair beaten.

England then gradually took control of the proceedings, winning three penalty corners in quick succession, beginning in the 52nd minute.

First, Richard Smith's low flick was comfortably saved by Adrian D'Souza before Ashley Jackson and Simon Mantell had efforts charged down.

India blew up another opportunity for the equaliser five minutes from the end when both Prabhjot Singh and Tushar Khandker failed to latch on to a Tirkey set up inside the circle.

At the fag end, Richard Smith made sure of an English victory when he smashed home from beyond the penalty spot off a corner rebound in the 68th minute.

The second Test will be played tomorrow at the University of Birmingham.

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