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India beat Pakistan 2-0
May 31, 2003 13:07 IST
India registered a fluent 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in their last league match on Saturday to move into the final of the three-nation Hockey Australia Men's Challenge in Perth.
Unperturbed by the loss they suffered in their previous league match against Australia, India persisted with their attacking game and scored through strikers Baljit Singh Dhillon (18th minute) and Prabhjot Singh (55th minute) to win the first match between the two sides this year, which saw both sides enjoy raucous support from expatriate fans.
India, who completed their league engagements with two wins from three matches, will meet Australia in the final on Sunday.
Australia, with two victories from as many matches, were beaten by Australia 'A' 2-7 in the last league match later in the day.
The victory was India's fourth in the five matches played between the teams over the 12 months. India had beaten Pakistan in 3-2 in the Champions Trophy league match; 4-3 in the Busan Asian Games semi-finals and 3-0 in the five-nation Cairo tournament. The only defeat was at the Champions Trophy in the play-off for third and fourth place, when India lost 3-4.
"As usual the match was quite exciting. But we prevailed as we played well in all the departments and dominated them
for most part of the match," an elated Indian coach Rajinder Singh said after the match.
India, who have come to the tournament aiming to fine-tune their skills for the Champions Trophy in August and next
year's Athens Olympics, began well by exerting pressure on the opposition defence with some fine moves, led by mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay, Dhillon and Prabhojot Singh.
Though the Indian strikers completely outshone their counterparts in the first 15 minutes, success came only in the 18th minute when they earned a penalty-stroke, after Bimal Lakra's low drive was blocked on the goal line by a Pakistani defender. Putting into play all his experience, Dhillon scored to give India a 1-0 lead, which the Indians managed to hold till the half-time.
Pakistan, desperate to snatch a big win for a place in the final, stepped on the gas for an equaliser in the second-half but they failed to penetrate the Indian defence due to some brilliant defending by former captain Dilip Tirkey and Jugraj Singh, who kept the rival strikers at bay with some fine work.
"Against Australia we were disappointed with the defenders. But today all of them, especially Tirkey and Jugraj, played really well to thwart Pakistani moves," Rajinder said.
Pakistan's desperation to score the equaliser helped the Indians in increasing the lead when Prabhjot Singh came up with a brilliant goal 15 minutes before the hooter, deflecting a cross, to put his side in a comfortable position.
India carefully negotiated the final minutes of the game, playing sensibly, and hardly gave any opportunity to rival team to have a shot at their goal.
Rajinder lauded the team effort and did not think that the absence of some senior players in the Pakistan side, including Sohail Abbas and former captain Mohammed Nadeem, helped India's cause.
"It was good to see the seniors and junior playing well in tandem. It is a good sign for the game in the country. The combinations were good today and all played well to script the win," he said.
"Though Pakistan did not have a few key players, it did not seem to have affected their performance as they played quite well.
"Moreover, they have come with their best to participate in this international tournament and it hardly matters who are playing and who are not. But today we played better then them," the India coach added.
Both Abbas and Nadeem were dropped from the side for the tournament on disciplinary grounds.
Rajinder said despite losing the league match against Australia 0-2 on Thursday, his team is quite confident of turning tables on the hosts in the final.
"We are quite confident of winning the final. But more than anything else we are concentrating on preparing the team for the Champions Trophy and Athens Olympics by adopting new techniques here."
The "new techniques" adopted by India during the tournament include reverting to the attacking style of play ,and Rajinder said the move is paying off.
"With every outing we are getting better and better. We are happy that the new moves are paying off in this tournament."
Grant Schubert scores three in Australia 'A' big win
Grant Schubert scored three goals as Australia 'A' thrashed Australia. The Aussie senior side hadn't conceded a goal in the tournament till A team midfielder Ben Bishop capitalised on a weak clearance in the 18th minute to make a mark on the clean slate.
Lucas Judge made it a 2-0 lead in the 25th minute before Jamie Dwyer pulled one back for the senior team five minutes before the breather.
Schubert then scored the first of his three goals -- in the 38th, 57th and 70th minutes -- and Andrew Smith (47th and 69th minutes) got a brace as the senior walked off the field humiliated.
Travis Brooks (64th minute) reduced the margin for Australia.
In the third place play-off match, Pakistan, who lost all their league encounters, will play Australia 'A' on Sunday, just before the final.
The four teams will travel to Sydney on June 2 for the second leg of this series.
Complete Coverage: Hockey Australia Men's Challenge - 2003