If veteran hockey player Dilip Tirkey stamped his class on Tuesday, it was the turn of another stalwart to showcase his skills on Wednesday. Comeback man Vikram Pillay made a bold statement that he is still fit and skilful to be a regular in the national squad when he helped India to another creditable draw against Holland in the four-nation Punjab Gold Cup underway in Chandigarh.
Thanks to his workman-like style of play, India shared the honours (2-2) with the world hockey powerhouse, as the second leg commenced on a steady note for the hosts.
Vikram was untiring throughout the 70 minutes of play and created some excellent attacking moves and also joined the defence to keep the Dutch strikers at bay. The mid-fielder, staging a comeback after almost two years, was adjudged Man-of-the-match.
Shivender Singh (38th) and Prabhjot Singh (55th) scored for the home team, while Jeroen Hertzberger (32nd) and Geert-Jan Derikx (52nd) sounded the boards for the visitors.
The match started on a pacy note and both teams kept probing the rival defence at regular intervals. But it was Holland who opened the account just three minutes from the break when Hertzberger took a powerful reverse-hit from a narrow angle on the left to put the Dutch in the driver's seat (1-0).
The change of ends brought good tidings for India and Shivender Singh scored the equaliser in the 38th minute.
Arjuna Halappa took a firm hit from the right of the 'arc' and Dutch goalkeeper Stockmamm blocked it. But the ball got entangled in his pads and Shivender, standing near him, pushed it into the cage.
Soon after, the Dutch increased the pace of their attacks and earned five penalty-corners in the second-half. In the 51st minute, the visitors earned their first penalty-corner of the game but goalkeeper Baljit came up with a superb goal-line save.
In very next minute, the Dutch got their second PC, and this time around they fared better with Geert-Jan Derikx slotting home the goal. Three minutes later, Prabhjot Singh came up with the equaliser, which injected life into the jam-packed stadium. In the first match of the day, New Zealand held Germany to a goalless draw.