Asian Champions Trophy: India sneak past Pakistan 2-1
Any India-Pakistan hockey match arouses more than just excitement and hype. There is so much at stake. On Monday, the Al Rayyan Hockey Stadium in Doha was packed to capacity.
It was Pakistan who called the shots, repeatedly making forays into the rival striking circle but fortunately for India, their strikers seemed to run out of ideas.
In fact, Indian forwards failed to create any penetrative move in the first fifteen minutes of play.
Vokkaliga Raghunath, Gurvinder Singh Chandi and Nithin Thimmaiah stitched a nice move for India in the 23rd minute but Nithin made a hash of that opportunity.
India earned their first penalty corner in the 27th minute but they wasted the scoring chance from the set-piece as the ball was not stopped cleanly and the rebound hit from Rupinder Pal Singh sailed wide.
India had another scoring opportunity in the 31st minute when Raghunath drilled in a robust pass but SV Sunil’s deflection went wide.
Two minutes later, Dharamvir Singh messed up another chance from close range as both teams went into half-time 0-0.
Indians supporters had a lot to cheer about early in the second half when Rupinder converted a penalty stroke in the 36th minute to put the onus of doing the catching up on Pakistan.
Pakistan pressed hard in pursuit of the equalizer and forced two penalty corners in quick succession but the Indian foiled both those attempts.
Shakeel Abbassi nearly restored parity for Pakistan when he dashed into the Indian defence all by himself only to lose control and hit it wide.
India doubled the lead in the 51st minute through Manipuri youngster Chinglensana Singh.
Pakistan forced their third penalty corner in the 57th minute following a superb move orchestrated by Fareed Ahmed. Muhammad Waqas made it count and reduced the margin.
A ten-men India played the final few minutes after Raghunath was yellow-carded.
India earned their second penalty corner in the 66th minute after a stick-check on Chandi, but could not profit from it as Rupinder messed up that chance.
Pakistan counter-attacked and were thwarted by the Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who brought off two solid saves.
India kept attacking in the dying moments and forced two consecutive penalty corners in the 68th minute but both the opportunities went abegging.
Pakistan earned their fourth PC in the final but a brilliant save by Rupinder ensured India logged full points from the match.