India were forced to drop points as lowly Canada held them to a 2-2 draw in the fifth and last Pool B league match of the Olympic hockey competition here today.
For India, who have already qualified for the quarter-finals, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh scored a goal each in the 33rd and 41st minute. Scott Tupper converted two penalty corners minutes to draw parity.
The Indians looked complacent and had a tentative start which allowed their rivals to have a major share of the ball and dominance in the mid-field.
Though the Indians soon regained the initiative and took control of the proceedings, all their attacks and counter-moves failed to cut the ice with the Canadian defenders,
Their first incisive attack came in the 10th minute when Nikkin Thimmaiah dodged past three defenders but a backhand was padded away by Canadian custodian David Carter.
One of the attacks earned them a penalty corner but V.R. Raghunath's flick was blocked by Carter in the 13th minute.
Canada launched a fierce counter-attack through Matthew Guest, who received a long ball to race into the Indian circle but Kothajit pressurised him to hit the shot wide, much to the relief of the Indian camp.
Nikkin again failed to beat Carter from a close angle as he just drove straight at the Canadian goalkeeper after an attack built from the right flank.
India continued with their pressure tactics in the second quarter as midfielder Manpreet dribbled past a couple of defenders but failed to beat goalkeeper Carter. On the rebound, Manpreet again employed a reverse-hand strike from the left but Carter foiled the move.
Later, Sardar Singh earned India a penalty corner but Scott Tupper superbly cleared the powerful flick from Rupinder Pal Singh.
The first two quarters were frustrating for India, who almost camped inside the Canadian half for the better part of the 30 minutes.
The former champions broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute when Akashdeep Singh sent the ball home following penalty corner rebound (1-0) but the lead lasted a few seconds.
The Indians were left bewildered by the sudden and furious counter attack by the Canadians which earned them a penalty corner and captain Scott Tupper made no mistake in converting it (1-1).
The rattled Indians went on the offensive in the third quarter and took the lead again in the 41st minute when unmarked Ramandeep deflected a ball in near the right post after intercepting Raghunath’s long shot to make it to make it 2-1
But the Canadians refused to give up and launched some very incisive moves which forced the Indians to beef up their defence. These tactics helped them to keep their rivals at bay but in the process they allowed the Canadians a free run in the midfield.
The repeated Canadian assault finally paid off as the Indians could not sustain the onslaught and conceded a penalty corner in the 52nd minute and Tupper was again on the target (2-2).
The Indians were caught unawares by such an onslaught by the Canadians and, in desperation to take the lead again, they pumped in all they had to earn a winner but could not get the breakthrough,
The Canadians held their ground till the end as they foiled all the Indian attempts to score. Though the Indians managed to get plenty of opportunities but failed to score the winner.
With this draw, India remained in the third spot with seven points, while Canada ended their campaign with a point and are now out of the Games.
The Netherlands and two-time defending champions Germany are the top two teams with 10 points each but the latter are ahead on goal difference.
India's position will depend on the result of the match between fourth-placed Argentina (five points) and Ireland (three points).