Hosts India looked set to win, but lost their lead with four minutes to go ©FIH

It is still all to play for in Pool C of the International Hockey Federation Men's World Cup after hosts India drew 2-2 with Belgium in Bhubaneswar today.

Both sides entered the match at the Kalinga Stadium knowing a win would put them top of the group, but neither side were able to take advantage in a game where both sides periodically held the lead.

In 20 previous contests between the two sides only two had ended in draws, with Belgium winning 13.

When the side ranked third in the world went 1-0 up after just eight minutes it therefore looked like more of the same might be in order.

Alexander Hendrickx gave Belgium the lead from a penalty corner, but with the 15,000 strong crowd largely against them and the context of the World Cup to consider, today’s match was not an ordinary contest.

India had chances of their own either side of the first quarter break, but neither side were able to take those that came their way and as the whistle blew for half time, the score still read 1-0 to Belgium.

With the crowd behind them though India came out firing in the third quarter and won a penalty flick when a goal bound shot from a penalty corner was blocked by a Belgian defender's body on the line.

Despite the pressure Harmanpreet Singh was cool enough to wrong-foot goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch and find the bottom left corner for 1-1.

Two minutes into the fourth quarter the hosts then took the lead, as Simranjeet Singh scored his third goal of the competition from close range.

Had things stayed that way India would have taken a three point lead at the top of the group, with just one match to go.

Not lying down however, Belgium then brought on a extra outfield player for their keeper and the resultant extra pressure paid off.

Four minutes from time Simon Gougnard slapped home the equaliser after a lovely move ripped open the Indian defence.

While both sides now sit on four points, India’s superior goal difference sees them top of the pool for now.

Afterwards their head coach Harendra said it is still “wide open”.

“With goal difference we are plus five and they are plus two, but it all comes down to that last game,” he said.

South Africa's lead against Canada lasted only two minutes ©FIH
South Africa's lead against Canada lasted only two minutes ©FIH

“We can forget about the two previous games, the next match is the one that will decide if we are in the quarter-final.”

The other match in the pool today also ended in a draw, with Canada and South Africa cancelling each other out at 1-1.

In a best of the rest battle South Africa dominated the early stages and would have gone ahead were it not for a brilliant save from the eventual man of the match David Carter in Canada’s goal.

He managed to glove an Austin Smith drag flick onto the cross bar from a penalty corner.

South Africa’s supremacy largely continued in the second quarter as well, and Canada’s resistance was finally broken towards the end of the third when Nqobile Ntuli managed to round Carter, before smashing a reverse stick shot into the open net.

Their lead lasted only two minutes however, as Canada’s captain Scott Tupper then put a penalty flick past substitute goalkeeper Gowan Jones.

In an attempt to regain the lead South Africa took their keeper off in the final stages for an outfield player, but unlike for Belgium, the extra man proved unable to seal a win.

Tomorrow the second round of matches will go ahead in Pool A, as Spain face France and New Zealand play the Olympic champions Argentina.