London, June 10 (IANS) India started their Champions Trophy hockey campaign with a nail-biting 3-3 draw against defending champions Germany here on Friday.
In what turned out to be a brilliant comeback from the Olympic gold medallists, Germany came from two goals down to play out a draw as India squandered a great start to lose the momentum in the final three minutes.
The first quarter turned out to be an eventful one for India as drag-flicker VR Raghunath successfully converted a penalty corner in the seventh minute to get a 1-0 lead. German goalkeeper Tobias Walter failed to read the thunderous hit from Raghunath’s stick.
India continued their domination in the second quarter as SV Sunil found the nets only to be reverted after referral in the 18th minute. The ball had touched his foot just before he struck home.
Meanwhile, Germany, in their quest for the equaliser failed to make use of the penalty corner in the 24th minute as Indian captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh managed to stop them.
Two minutes later, the Germans finally managed to draw level after Tom Grambusch converted a penalty corner. But their joy was shortlived as midfielder Mandeep Singh, playing his 150th international game regained the lead for India with a brilliant field goal to lead 2-1 into half time.
Coming after the break, India struck immediately in the 32nd minute as drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh extended the lead with a scorcher of a finish. But four minutes later, Germany pulled one back with Grambusch grabbing his second goal by converting a penalty corner.
The Germans tried hard to get the equaliser but Sreejesh brilliantly foiled both their attempts as India ended the third quarter with a 3-2 lead.
The fourth quarter started without much action until the 52nd minute when Mandeep missed a chance to double the lead after a scramble in the goal mouth which he shot too wide.
But it appeared as all the action was stored for the final minutes of the game as a penalty stroke for Jonas Gomoll helped Germany equalise with the final scoreline reading 3-3.
The Roelant Oltmans-coached side will now take on Britain in their second match of the tournament on Saturday.