Goalkeeper Akash Chikte sealed the game for India, as they stormed into the semifinals of Hockey World League 2017 (HWL 2017) Finals with a thrilling victory over Belgium in sudden death. The match ended in 3-3 draw in the stipulated time.
Unlike their last two matches, the Indians made a bright start to the game and had a wonderful chance to take the lead in the opening minute.
After three efforts it was 2-0 for India but Belgium roared back forcing sudden-death by scoring both of their two remaining efforts while India failed to convert.
In the topsy-turvy shootout, Lalit Upadhyay, Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet scored from India. They won their first match in the tournament and entered into the semi-finals. The first goal, though came in the second quarter and the second came just minutes later. Four minutes later, it was doubled, thanks to a ferocious penalty corner flick from Harmanpreet Singh. India could have scored in the first minute of the match but SV Sunil missed a sitter. He blocked out Belgium's first attempt but India also scored their subsequent attempt.
The host awarded with third penalty corner, senior drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh's smart stick work, proved luck for India. It drew with world champions Australia, before losing to England and Germany.
The Belgian, who were unbeaten in the pool stage, had two great chances in the form of two penalty corners at the fag end of the match to score the victor but the Indians defended well to take the game into shoot-out.
While Gurjant Singh (31st minute), Harmanpreet Singh (35th) and Rupinderpal Singh (46th) were the goal scorers for India, Belgium's goals came from the sticks of Loick Luypaert (39th, 46th) and Amaury Keusters (53rd).