India break losing streak, manage draw against SA | india | Hindustan Times
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India break losing streak, manage draw against SA

The controversial umpire referral system denied India a goal and a well-deserved victory on Monday. Both India and South Africa finished with four points each from five matches but the former finished fourth in the pool on better goal difference (-3 for India to -15 for SA). B. Shrikant reports.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2010 01:32 IST

The controversial umpire referral system denied India a goal and a well-deserved victory on Monday.

Dutch umpire Roef van Eert accepted a delayed protest by South Africa and sought the video umpire’s opinion on a foul committed in the Indian striking circle after the hosts had restarted the game and scored off a counter-attack.

Sarvanjit Singh, off a brilliant move initiated by quick exchange of passes between Rajpal Singh and Gurvinder Chandi, had scored what looked like India's third goal. But video umpire Andy Mair ruled a foul in the Indian zone. The ball hit Vikram Pillay's shoulder off a South African attack and rose. A South Africa player lifted his stick to trap it and was penalised and India were given a free hit. The Indians attacked and scored before it was overturned and a penalty corner awarded to their rivals.

Austin Smith flicked home to give his team a 3-2 lead. Umpire Van Eert's action was controversial as the protest for the foul had come too late, proving once again that the referral system needs urgent fine-tuning. India would have taken the lead in the 47th minute and exerted more pressure on the South Africans.

Denied, India ultimately scored the equalizer in the 65th minute when Shivendra Singh chipped the ball into the roof of the goal from close range. Both India and South Africa finished with four points each from five matches but the former finished fourth in the pool on better goal difference (-3 for India to -15 for SA). Pakistan finished sixth in the pool.

India will play for the 7th-8th position and hope to achieve their best finish in the World Cup since 1994 when they finished 5th.

South Africa went into the lead in the 7th minute when Lloyd Norris-Jones made a good run from the midfield and shot past Adrian D'Souza from the top of the circle. India levelled 10 minutes later as Sarvanjit slammed the ball past South Africa goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse. India took a 2-1 lead in the 25th minute when Diwakar Ram deflected in a pass after the ball was not stopped properly off a penalty corner.

South Africa levelled the score in the 39th minute through Justin Ried-Ross and then came the controversial goal that nearly derailed India's campaign.

The Indian midfield took control early but the defence was as jittery as ever. But overall the errors were fewer. The forwards showed better coordination and India created pressure in the South Africa half. They created chances but some solid defending by South Africa goalkeeper Pieterse denied them.