Asian Champions Trophy 2016 India vs Pakistan: In a humdinger of a match India emerged supreme 3-2. The match of the tournament proved to be as thrilling as can be with both protagonists giving back as good as they got. Both had played two matches in the tournament and they had emerged with bittersweet results, what with India beating Japan 10-2 in the tournament opener fixture but managed a 1-1 draw thereafter. For Pakistan there was a huge humiliation in store as they lost to the hosts Malaysia but then beat south Korea 1-0. With a better record, India are ranked second and Pakistan third in the table. That means India emerged as table toppers after they beat Pakistan (Pak could have dislodged India from second place with a win). Considering this is an India vs Pakistan match, it was expected to be a volatile affair with tempers running high, but the tempo of the game would never flag. And that is exactly what happened with both teams stretching themselves to the extremes to try and gain advantage.
Pakistan started with a bang and managed to win a penalty corner and it took the agility of PR Sreejesh to keep the ball out as the opposition almost scored. However, the Pakistani team kept launching attack after attack as the Indians kept losing the ball repeatedly and even exposed the goalie Sreejesh on a number of occasions, which caused him to shout at his players to provide him a tighter defence.
The admonishment by the goalie brought some discipline back into the Indian ranks as next thing we knew Akashdeep ran with the ball into the Pakistan D, but the attack fizzled thereafter. Pakistan was looking strong not just in the attack but also in defence at that stage.
India got a chance to take the lead with just over a minute left in the first quarter as Balwinder got into the D again and tried a shot at the goal immediately, but his powerful shot missed by centimetres.
The second quarter saw the Indian team starting with greater attacking vigour but Pakistan were the ones who had a shot at the goal, even though it was very much against the run of play. It took all the skills of Sreejesh to save the day for India.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@Spurs_India) October 23, 2016
But the Pakistani defence finally crumbled when Pardeep Mor ran into the Pakistan D from the right side and smashed the ball towards the goal. It hit the goalie, but he could not prevent it from ricocheting into the goal.
However, Pakistan struck through Rizwan Sr as soon as the second half started. In fact, with India still sitting back after scoring a goal, the Pakistanis took advantage. This time, even the agility and experience of Sreejesh could not come to the team’s aid. Rizwan Sr had hit the ball so hard, it just whizzed past the goalie. This was all the encouragement that Pakistan needed and they launched attacks in quick succession to peg India back further. The strategy paid off and Pakistan scored to take a 2-1 lead. Bad defending but the Pakistanis were really on fire at that stage.
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) October 23, 2016
It took another over 5 minutes of India absorbing Pakistani pressure before it managed to launch a telling counter-attack and restore parity at 2-2. The goal came from a penalty corner that was awarded by the third umpire, Rupinder Singh Pal doing the honours by blasting the ball into the goal with the goalkeeper having no chance to save it.
And, withing just another minute or so after scoring the equaliser, India smacked home the winner, leaving the Pakistani team staring incredulously at a big defeat from their neighbour. This time it was Ramandeep who scored the all important winning goal.