Santantder (Spain): An agile India put up a decent performance to held hosts Spain to an exciting 3-3 draw in the first hockey Test at the new facility in La Albericia in the capital city of the Cantabria province here.
Ranked 10th in the world, India trailed twice in the match but bounced back well and with a bit more luck and pluck, they could have won against the ranked fifth team. The vastly experienced Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortes made at least five brilliant saves in the final 10 minutes when India's improved fitness came into play as the visiting side laid siege on the rival circle.
Cortes also saved penalty corner drag-flicks from VR Raghunath and Sandeep Singh to ensure that his team shared honours with India. Quickly adapting to a blue turf that had perfect bounce, forward Tushar Khandker put India in the lead in the 11th minute by deflecting a cross from SV Sunil.
But centre-forward Eduardo Tubau restored parity by capitalising on a pass from midfielder David Alegre in the 24th minute. Spain took the lead seven minutes later when Sergi Enrique beat India skipper and goalkeeper Bharat Chetri with a penalty stroke that was awarded because the ball had struck SK Uthappa's foot during a penalty corner exercise.
India was in the arrears for just two minutes as Gurwinder Singh Chandi's reverse flick off a rebound from Cortes' pads found the mark. Even though India made a number of circle penetrations, it was Spain that took the lead again in the 59th minute through a field goal by Tubau that capped some good work by Santi Frexia on a counter-attack.
Three minutes later, Uthappa scored a field goal to help India draw abreast of the home team that enjoyed the support of a goodly crowd. India and Spain will play the second Test tomorrow evening.