Asian Champions Trophy 2016: India crowned champions after defeating Pakistan 3-2 in finals
It all came down to this match where India took on defending champions Pakistan for the title of the 4th Asian Champions Trophy. Considering the political agitation between the two sides, the game was supposed to be about more than just about hockey.
India defeated South Korea last night 7-6 in a shootout thriller, while Pakistan did the same to hosts Malaysia beating them 4-3 to fix their encounter tonight. Last time the teams faced off in the group stage, India came out as winner defeating Pakistan 3-2, who already have won the tournament double the times India has (2012,2013).
The game kicked off as the Men in Green looked resolute to keep the trophy to themselves and win it for a record three consecutive times.The Indian team led by skipper Rupinder Singh kicked off the ball but Pakistan soon gained possession as they pressed forward with an attacking intent using the width.
Pakistan ranked 13 in the world were looked disciplined as they dominated 54% of the possession in the first quarter. India, however, came back stronger as the skipper took it upon himself to break the deadlock as he whistled the ball past the keeper with just 4 minutes into the game. Soon enough India doubled their lead as a brilliant long pass from Sardar Singh was converted by Affan after Ramaneep whipped the ball in from the left.
But the drama for the half was not over yet as defender Walmiki received a green card which gave Pakistan a man advantage which was capitalised by a drag flick from Aleem over Akash Chikte. India looked confident going into the break having the much-needed lead but needed to put up a robust defense to maintain it.
Pakistan decided to go the aerial way to increase the pace of the game and their strategy of playing deep worked as they equalized in the third quarter.They looked to play this contest on the counter and was happy to sit back and India did not miss their chance to get in the driver's seat and with just 9 minutes left Nikkin Thimmaiah scored the winner.
All's well that ends well as India won the Asian Champion's Trophy for the second time leveling with rivals Pakistan.Earlier tonight in the 3rd/4th place encounter Malaysia defeated South Korea by 2-4 in a shootout to seal the third spot while Korea finished on 4th.
Malaysia will continue being the home for hockey as they host the 8th Junior Men’s Asia Cup next which kicks off on November 14 in Kuantan.