With memorable Indian hockey and badminton victories, cricket takes the back seat for once on Super Sunday
A dominant Indian Men’s Hockey team played like champions to beat Pakistan 7-1 in a one-sided match here at the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final on Sunday. Goals by Harmanpreet Singh (13’, 33’), Talwinder Singh (21’, 24’), Akashdeep Singh (47’, 59’) and Pardeep Mor (49’) ensured India toppled The Netherlands to lead the points table with their third successive win.
The win came alongside the Indian cricket team’s defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy final, where they lost by a whopping 180 runs. Earlier in the day, it was Kidambi Srikanth who had kicked off Super Sunday in the best possible manner by lifting the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier title, winning the final in straight games.
With two back-to-back defeats against The Netherlands (0-4) and Canada (0-6), Pakistan were desperate for a win against India to advance in the league. They did get off the blocks quickly with their first real opportunity coming within three minutes of the start when Ajaz Ahmad drifted away just a little bit from his man Pardeep Mor to take a shot on goal.
India though took a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute when Mor won the team a second chance at PC and India’s dragflick sensation Harmanpreet Singh was impeccable with his effort, keeping the ball low to beat the goalkeeper.
The Indian forwards kept up the pressure with a strong attack that ensured India doubled the lead in the 21st minute. It was tactical brilliance by Mandeep Singh who passed to Satbir Singh from the top of the circle who then flicked it to Sunil who nicked it to Talwinder who deflected the ball into the post – all in rapid pace leaving Pakistani defenders dumbstruck. Talwinder struck his second goal of the match in the 24th minute when Satbir Singh set him up for a spectacular goal taking India’s lead to a formidable 3-0.
India continued to play like champions in the third quarter giving no room for Pakistan to come back into the game. Harmanpreet enthralled the Indian fans who had turned up in full strength with India’s fourth goal in the 33rd minute. It was his trademark attempt, shooting the ball to the top right corner of the post and giving no chance for Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali to stop it. Though Pakistan had a good attack, India’s defence was rock solid with the goalkeepers putting up a strong performance.
The fourth quarter dented Pakistan’s hopes further with Akashdeep pumping another goal into Pakistan’s post in the 47th minute taking India’s lead to 5-0. The flurry of goals didn’t stop at that for India with Pardeep Mor scoring a splendid goal in the 49th minute to take India’s score to 6-0. Pakistan saved the blushes with a consolation goal in the 57th minute by Umar Bhutta Muhammad. India’s goal fest continued with Akashdeep taking India’s score to 7-1 in the 59th minute to walk away with the points.
It was indeed a memorable day for Indian sports fans, who can take immense pride in the performance by the nation’s athletes in hockey and badminton.