Bruised and battered with two defeats on the trot, India's misery in the hockey World Cup was compounded on Saturday after being held to a 1-1 draw by underdogs South Africa in a pool B encounter at Monchengladbach.
The Indians, who desperately needed a big win to stay in contention for a semifinal berth, failed to rise to the occasion with another dismal performance which has now shattered all hopes of a podium finish.
Dilip Tirkey and his men again squandered a 1-0 lead through Ignace Tirkey (13th minute) by allowing their unfancied opponents to score the equaliser through Ian Symons seven minutes before the hooter at the Warsteiner Hockey Park.
With two more league matches against strong contenders the Netherlands and South Korea, India seem headed for a bottom placed finish unless they pulled off a remarkable turnaround of fortunes.
Despite coach Vasudevan Baskaran's promise of a better showing, the Indians were a pale shadow of themselves and the failure to earn full points could well mean that the team could struggle to improve upon their 10th finish at the last edition.