Kuantan [Malaysia], Oct.23 : Lalit Upadhyay struck a first-half equalizer as the Indian men's hockey team settled for a 1-1 draw against South Korea in the round-robin league encounter of the fourth Asian Champions Trophy here last evening.
Korea, predictably lined up in a defensive formation and were happy to concede possession, while they kept their shape compact at the back.
Despite the numbers, India had the early chances with Talwinder and Ramandeep combining brilliantly before goalkeeper Hong Doopyo blocked the former's shot on goal.
Off the rebound Talwinder had another attempt but it fell to Hong who palmed it away. India held almost all the possession in the quarter and looked comfortable at most times, but against the run of play, Korea almost had the lead.
Jasjit Singh's concession saw Seo Inwoo in front of goal with only Sreejesh to beat, but the striker missed the target.
In the 11th minute, Korea took the lead via Jeong Junwoo. They went into the first break leading 1-0. India raced out into the second quarter and had their first PC in the 17th minute. Rupinder Pal's dragflick was on target but Hong was up to the task again, denying India the equaliser.
The rest of the quarter was played out at the same pace, India holding the possession and controlling the game, but unable to break down Korea's defence in the final third.
They had 17 circle penetrations to Korea's five and even had more shots on target, but still didn't have the goal.
The teams went into halftime with Korea in the lead. India came out of halftime with a slightly different approach in attack as their wingers went wider, and they reduced the intricate play in the build-up.
It was that style of play that got them the equaliser. Rupinder Pal Singh's long ball found Nikkin Thimmaiah on the right flank, and he took it well, before driving towards the Korean circle, taking on two defenders.
He appeared to have won a penalty corner, but played the advantage, cutting the pass back in the centre.
Lalit Upadhyay took the ball, feinted away from his marker and unleashed a reverse hit into the bottom corner to draw India to level the score.
Minutes later they could have had the lead, as Akashdeep's reverse hit cross found Ramandeep in front of goal.
His attempt though fell wide of the target. The two teams exchanged penalty corner attempts in the final minutes of the quarter, both shooting wide as they went into the final break level at one goal apiece.
Both teams went all out in attack in the final quarter. Sreejesh was dominating in the goal for India effecting several saves to ensure the two teams ended with a point apiece.
The point keeps India at second place in the table with four points, behind hosts Malaysia. India will next lock horns with Pakistan today. Despite of Pakistan being the defending champion, India will go into the match with a higher world ranking and as one of the prime contenders for the tournament.