Santander, Spain: South Africa launched a massive second-half comeback against India in the first hockey Test here on Sunday but fell a goal short of escaping with a draw, allowing the Indians to beat them 6-5 in the end.
India led 3-1 at the half-time whistle and scored three more in the last 35 minutes, but a spirited South Africa turned the match into a nail-biter by finding the target four times in the second half.
The South Africans had once brought the scores level to 1-1 when India skipper and goalkeeper Bharat Chetri was yellow-carded for a dangerous challenge on Marvin Harper. Lloyd Madsen converted the resultant penalty corner by beating the Indian defender Ignace Tirkey who was in the goal post while Chetri was suspended for 10 minutes.
The second half saw a determined South Africa on the pitch, but India nullified their intent by scoring again one minute into the half, and then by making it 5-1 through a controversial goal. The South African goalkeeper appealed that the final Indian shot into the goal came off a back-stick, but the umpires went by their initial decision to award the goal to India.
The flood gates seemed to have opened for South Africa at 5-1, but a superb fightback saw them score four times, though not before India had scored one more goal that proved to be decisive in the end.
Shivendra Singh (13th and 38th minute), Dharamvir Singh (19th and 21st minute), Tushar Khandker (36th minute) and VR Raghunath (53rd minute) were on target for India.
The goal-scorers for South Africa were Austin Smith (17th and 69th minute), Tim Drummond (42nd minute), Ian Haley (48th minute) and Justin Ried Ross (67th minute).