India were held to a 1-1 draw by the brisk-moving South Koreans in the round-robin league encounter of the fourth Asian Champions Trophy hockey in Kuantain, Malaysia on Saturday.
Placed five spots behind sixth-ranked India in the world rankings, the Koreans repeatedly caused ripples in the rival defence and found plenty of time and space to dribble into the scoring zone at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium.
A series of saves by skipper PR Sreejesh saved India the embarrassment after they had fallen behind in the first quarter of the game.
South Korea took the lead in the 11the minute off a flash strike by Jeong Jun-woo after a misdirected Indian pass in their own territory. India fought back to equalise in the 33rd minute through Lalit Upadhyay, who sent a firm reverse drive from the top of the circle into the boards.
Title favourites India, the highest ranked Asian team, now have four points from two games ahead of the showpiece league match against Pakistan on Sunday.
India got the equaliser three minutes into the second session when Upadhyay got possession of a deflection just inside the circle and shot past a number of players in the scoring zone, who seemed to have hampered the goalkeeper's view of the shot.
The Korean strikers gave the Indian defence a torrid time as they forced two successive penalty corners in the 35th minute. Within the next five minutes, strikers Hwang Tae-il and Kim Hyeong-jin darted into the Indian circle from the flanks and took shots at the citadel that were blocked by goalkeeper Sreejesh.
Korea went on to force two more penalty corners — taking their tally to four in the game — but could not breach the Indian defence again.
India play their third match of the tournament against Pakistan on Sunday at 4:00 pm IST.
(This copy has been edited for length.)