India beat arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 in Azlan Shah
Defending champions India recuperated from their initial hiccup in the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament as they beat arch-rivals Pakistan by 4-2 here on Friday, thus, registering their first win in the tournament.
Pakistan had hoped to even terms with India after a humiliating 1-4 defeat in the recently concluded Hockey World Cup. However, the hopes remained unfulfilled as India once again showed tremendous grit on the turf and clinched the game by a huge margin of 4-2.
India had drawn their first match against China 1-1 and desperately needed a win so as to strengthen their hold in the tournament.
Both teams were agitated to play open hockey and opted to put men behind the ball when losing possession.
However, India made the first move and started making forays deep into the Pakistani half led by Arjun Hallapa who did not play the match against China on Thursday.
India took the lead, deservingly though, in the 26th minute when Sardar Singh slammed in the rebound off a penalty corner attempt made by Dhanajay Mahadik.
That woke the Pakistanis from their slumber and they went into attack mode right away and won their first penalty corner in the 31st minute. But the attempt by Aamir Shahzad sailed over the bar.
Pakistan were awarded a penalty stroke in the 37th minute and skipper Muhamad Imran kept his cool to beat Indian custodian Sreejesh Parathi Raveendran to put his team on level terms.
India went 2-1 ahead when Gurbaj Singh’s hard hit into the semi circle was deflected by Mandip Antil in the 47th minute.
They could have increased their lead in the 50th minute but Mahadik’s attempt from the penalty corner sailed wide.
Gurbaj made it 3-1 in the 53rd minute while Tushar Khandker made it 4-1 in the 56th minute to give India a commanding lead.
Khasif Ali reduced the deficit by converting a penalty corner in the 66th minute but the fightback was a little too late.
Gurbaj Singh was given the Man of the Match award.