Two Indian goals - one from open play early in the first quarter and a second off a PC early in the fourth were quite enough for the hosts to earn full points against Belgium and jump up the rankings ladder to be placed fourth in the latest post-match FIH rankings.
Shane McLeod's side will wonder what they did wrong amidst overcast conditions at the Kalinga Stadium, but slumped to a 1-2 defeat in the first of the two matches against India which, incidentally, is their first loss in the FIH Men's Pro League 2020.
Young Dilpreet Singh helped Mandeep score India's first in the second minute of play subsequent to which the ball did pretty much everything but enter the Indian goal as the beleaguered World Champions battled away in vain.
The stats at the end of the first half highlighted the dominance of the Red Lions who directed 13 goalbound shots as compared to the Indians who only managed a couple. The Belgians also notched up three times more circle penetrations than the Indians.
Six penalty corners for Belgium produced no results while the Indians failed to earn a single PC in the first two quarters but held on to their one-goal lead thanks to some inspired goalkeeping from Sreejesh and gritty Krishan Pathak.
It was just not Belgium's day, as Florent van Aubel failed to take advantage of a wrong pass gifted to him outside the Indian circle post the long breather - and, it was left to Gauthier Boccard to finally break down India's resistance with a superbly executed PC routine that foxed Krishan Pathak.
Ramandeep's deflection off a PC in the 46th minute proved to be the winner but the Indians will consider themselves a trifle fortunate given that a few of the goalmouth scrambles could have gone either way.
Nevertheless, a win against the world's best side who got past Australia a fortnight ago is no small feat and Graham Reid's boys have charmed their fans with a magical performance thus far in the Pro League.
Tightening up at the back will be the priority for the hosts, on Sunday, given that the Belgians will come out all guns blazing and an absolute cracker of a contest awaits hockey lovers.
The Indians have inched closer to the top of the points table with 8 points from 3 matches while the Belgians continue to be merrily perched in the first position with 11 points from 5 matches.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
Event: Men's Hockey Pro League 2020
Venue: Bhubaneswar, India
Date: 9 February, 2020
Time: 5:00 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: Sportskeeda
With the Belgians expected to come hard at India, a more open contest is on the cards with the Indian counterattacks seeking to nullify a sustained full press from the visitors.
Score Prediction: India 3-2 BelgiumPublished 09 Feb 2020, 08:11 IST