La Albericia, (Spain): The Indian hockey team went down fighting to South Africa in its last friendly in the run-up to the Tri-Nation tournament here on Wednesday.
India lost the keenly-fought encounter 3-4. The scorers for India were Danish Mujtaba, Sandeep Singh and SK Uthappa while Clinton Panther, Thoton McDade, Llyod Norris-Jones and Justin Reid Ross were on target for South Africa.
Panther put South Africa ahead in the ninth minute, scoring a field goal. McDade scored another for his team in the 17th minute.
India reduced the margin four minutes later with a field goal scored by forward Mujtaba. Going into the second half India created good moves penetrating in the circle and levelled 2-2 in the 47th minute through a penalty corner converted by Sandeep.
However, three minutes later, Norris-Jones put South Africa ahead. India fought back strongly and equalised seven minutes later through a field goal by Uthappa.
South Africa scored the winning goal in the 61st minute through a penalty corner by Justin Reid. In the run-up to the Tri-Nation, India drew Spain 3-3, before losing the second Test 1-2 and beat South Africa 6-5 in the first friendly. The four matches helped the Indian players adjust to the blue turf.
India will play against Great Britain on Saturday in the inaugural match of Tri-Nation series in Santander, Spain.