WRAP: If there were any doubts as to whether India was ready to challenge the best in their own backyard, then Manpreet Singh and Co. gave an emphatic yes for an answer. They survived the first half with a dodged performance and then turned on the heat in the second to almost earn three full points and seal a quarterfinal berth.

But the age old problems of not making the final pass count and dropping their guard in the final few minutes cost them in the final analysis, so did Mandeep Singh’s goal mouth miss in the opening quarter.

But India still have their destiny in their own hand as they play after Belgium on Saturday and would know exactly what they need to do against Canada to seal that spot in the last eight.

The 2-2 draw means that India would have the future in their own hand. They now top the group on better goal difference and would know exactly what they have to do when they take on Canada in the last group match on December 8.

End of match chat: Despite the improvement India showed in the second half, Harendra Singh says the team still needs to work hard on that final pass inside the striking circle.

Both the teams wanted to win the match so as to increase their chances of topping the group.

Presentation: Varun Kumar, who was exceptional in defence today, has been named the Man of the Match.

It was clearly a match of two halves. While Belgium dominated the proceedings in the first 30 minutes, India came out with a clear plan in the second half and showed why they are such a feared side in world hockey. They took the lead through Simranjeet Singh and when it looked like Manpreet Singh and Co. could stake claim for the top spot with second successive win they ended up conceding a late goal, something that has haunted Indian hockey for a long time.

FULL TIME: India India 2 Belgium 2: India’s problem of conceding late goals come backs to haunt Manpreet Singh and Co. as they let Belgium come back after dominating most of the second half.

58th minute: India 2 Belgium 2: Belgium have decided to keep the additional man on field as they now search for a winner and have called for a video referral in search for a penalty corner.

GOAL: 56th minute: India 2 Belgium 2: It was a melee inside the striking circle and Simon Gougnard beats Sreejesh from between his legs to find the equaliser.

56th minute: India 2 Belgium 1: Belgium have withdrawn their goalkeeper to add another player to the outfield as they look for an equaliser

GOAL: 47th minute India 2 Belgium 1: That was a classic goal from India. Kothajit Singh makes a probing run from the left and crosses the ball in where Simranjeet Singh just has to tap it home.

End of third quarter: India 1 Belgium 1: India came out all guns blazing after the break and dominated proceedings in the last 15 minutes. Most of their attacks came from the right and they were finally rewarded for their hard work when they earned a penalty stroke following a couple of penalty corners and Harmanpreet Singh made no mistakes in convert it. Everything to play for now in the last 15 minutes.

GOAL: 39th minute: India 1 Belgium 1: Harmanpreet Singh goes low to the right of the goalkeeper and equalises.

39th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: India gets two back to back penalty corners and Varun’s low flick hits a defenders leg on the goal line and its a penalty stroke for India.

35th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: Manpreet shows brilliant interception skills to win India’s first penalty corner. But van Ass makes a very good save to stop Harmanpreet Singh’s drag flick to his right.

33nd minute India 0 Belgium 1: Dilpreet Singh has been denied by the Belgium goalkeeper. India have been making forays from the left and Simranjeet Singh passes the ball to Dilpreet but the goalkeeper leaves his line to make a save.

Half time chat:

Harendra Singh says the team was too eager to score a goal and did not keep the structure. They need to protect the center to take control of the match. Weather the team manages to do that?

Here how the first half panned out in numbers

HALF TIME: India 0 Belgium 1: India were the second best team in the first 30 minutes. There ball possession fell by 5% to 39 from 44 in the first quarter and would be lucky to be trailing just by one goal at the break. They will now need to show more intent and take control at the center of the field if they want to earn three full points against Belgium.

29th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: Sreejesh is furious and its understandable. Tom Boon manages to run behind the defenders and very nearly found the second goal as he deflects yet another long ball.

25th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: India have been sitting too deep in their own half and paying the price of not keeping the ball. Belgium has managed to enter the shooting circle from the center more than half the times. That only means that India have been guilty of leaving too much space in the midfield.

21st minute: India 0 Belgium 1: Akashdeep Singh gets a green card. So India is down to 10 men

20th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: India makes a strong run from the right and Dilpreet Singh had a golden opportunity to find Lalit Upadhyay inside the circle. But he goes for a shot at goal and the ball hits the side netting. While that is pretty disappointing, India are slowly beginning to find their feet in the match.

End of first quarter: India 0 Belgium 1: The Olympics silver medallist were clearly the better side. Dominating possession and using the long balls inside the Indian striking circle to earn penalty corners, one of which they scored from. Mandeep Singh had an opportunity to find the equaliser in the 15th minute but the striker makes a hash of it.

15th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: Hopefully the miss from Mandeep will not come back to haunt India. Birendra Lakra gave a good through pass and Dilpreet gives a cheeky pass to Mandeep, who is a few steps away from the goal. But the striker fails to direct the ball in the goal.

12th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: Belgium came close to scoring the second as they came in from the right. The hosts are clearly struggling in dominating possession. India has just 44% possession against Belgium’s 56%

GOAL: 8th minute: India 0 Belgium 1: Belgium are once again successful in getting a penalty corner after the ball hits Birendra Lakra’s leg. And Alexander Hendrickx scores by flicking the ball under the legs of Sreejesh.

6th minute: India 0 Belgium 0: It has been Belgium in total control in the first five minutes. India haven’t managed to even reach the Belgium striking circle during this phase of play. They definitely need to slow down the game and take possession of the ball and try to keep it longer to settle their nerves.

2nd minute: India 0 Belgium 0: Belgium have earned their first penalty corner after they successfully appeal for a dangerous ball from Surender Kumar. They get another penalty corner but Sreejesh makes a good save to keep India out of trouble.

1st minute: India 0 Belgium 0: Belgium begins with the push back and are immediately on the offensive.

6.57 pm: Time for the introductions and the national anthem and it seems even the players and the crowd for play to begin.

6.50 pm: And here is the team list for the all important group game.

6.48 pm: Before the proceedings begin, here is what India’s analytical coach Chris Ciriello had to say about how winning is more important than whether the goals comes from penalty corners or field moves.

Read the story here.

6.45 pm: Here is the head to head record between India and Belgium so far. Can India win this one and make it even?

6.40 pm: Our man in Bhubaneshwar, Praveen Sudevan says the Indian team has now taken the field for their warm up before the national anthems take place and the match begins.

6.37 pm: While the two teams warm up before the encounter that decides the group toppers, here is what India coach Harendra Singh had said ahead of the match.

Won’t compromise on playing attacking hockey against Belgium, says India coach Harendra Singh

6.30 pm: South Africa, who were hammered by India 5-0, have managed to hold Canada to a 1-1 draw in their second Group C encounter. And the capacity crowd in the Kalinga stadium is already buzzing with the anticipation of the Indian team taking to the turf for their second match of the World Cup against Belgium.

6.20 pm: Hello all and welcome to The Field’s live blog of India’s Hockey World Cup match against Belgium in Pool C. This is the big one in the group stages as far as India are concerned.

With their World Cup campaign off to a bright start, India face a stern test awaiting in the form of world number three Belgium, and need a win to guarantee a direct entry into the quarterfinals.

Seeking to rewrite history after 43 years, the Indian men’s hockey team made a positive start with a 5-0 thrashing of South Africa on Wednesday. Rio Olympic silver medallist Belgium were not at their best in a fighting 2-1 win over Canada.

Come pushback in Bhubaneswar, the Indians will have to be at their best in all departments to get the better of the ever-improving Red Lions, who will be out to prove a point after a not-so-impressive opener.

The Indian forward line comprising Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay impressed against South Africa. While Simranjeet scored a brace, all three other strikers struck a goal each.

The Manpreet Singh-led midfield and the backline too did a decent job the other day but defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar and goalkeeper P R Sreejesh will have to be on their toes against the attacking Belgians.

World number five India would also look to better their head-to-head record against Belgium. Since 2013, both teams have played against each other on 19 occasions with India registering five wins as against Belgium’s 13. One ended in a draw.

The last time the two teams played each other was in the final edition of the Champions Trophy earlier this year in Breda, Netherlands where India conceded a late goal in a 1-1 draw.