India on Sunday drew 2-2 with Korea to make a satisfactory start to their campaign in the 24th Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, in what was Dutchman Paul van Ass' first match as the team's chief coach.
India took the lead through Nikkin Thimmaiah (10th minute) before Korea scored twice through Hyesung Hyun (24th) and Seongkyu Lee (53rd) to reverse the scoreline. VR Raghunath (56th) came to India's rescue with a penalty corner conversion as both the teams took away one point each from the fixture.
The match was of immense importance for the Indians, who are witnessing a transition phase post Terry Walsh era. It was Van Ass' maiden assignment as India coach and at the end of the day he probably would have been mighty relieved with the ultimate scoreline.
After a relatively slow start, India picked up the momentum with time.
But it was the Koreans who had the first shot at the goal in the eighth minute when Seongkyu Kim's feeble shot was easily gloved over by Indian custodian PR Sreejesh.
Two minutes later, Akashdeep Singh came close to handing India the lead but his shot from an acute angle was saved by Korean custodian Jaehyeon Kim.
India did not have to wait for long as Thimmaiah then tapped home from close range to flick the ball swiftly into the goalpost in the 10th minute after receiving the pass from Ramandeep Singh.
Rupinder had passed the ball to Ramandeep Singh, who was at the Korean goalmouth.
Four minutes into the second quarter, India had great chances of extending their lead but Korean goalkeeper made a double save to deny Dharamvir Singh and Satbir Singh.
The Koreans looked dangerous in counter-attacks and from one such move managed to secure back-to-back penalty corners in the 24th minute, the second of which was converted by Hyun with a powerful high flick to the left of Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh, who stood like a spectator.
Akashdeep then was unlucky as his reverse hit struck the upright as both the teams went into the breather locked at one goal apiece.
After the change of ends, the Indians continued to mount pressure on the Korean defence but their efforts failed to result into goals.
The Koreans, on the other hand, preferred to sit back and rely more on counter-attacks.