|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Pakistan beat India to claim bronze
December 12, 2004 17:45 IST
India's hopes of a podium finish came crashing down after they suffered a 3-2 defeat against Pakistan in a tension-filled playoff match for the bronze medal in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament in Lahore on Sunday.
The loss also dashed India's hopes matching their best-ever finish in the elite six-nation event which had come in 1982 at Amstelveen, Holland.
Sandeep Singh's two goals did not prove enough for the eight-time Olympic champions as the hosts cruised through, riding on strikes by Sohail Abbas (4th minute), Rehan Butt (28th) and Mudassar Ali Khan (65th).
The engrossing battle saw the home side finding the net twice to bounce back into the match after the Indians stunned the local supporters with a second minute goal.
Pakistan enjoyed ball possession in the first minute but a defensive lapse gave an unexpected penalty corner to the Indians which was converted by Sandeep Singh with a drag flick.
But India's joy was shortlived as Pakistan bounced back just two minutes later with Sohail Abbas adding to his world record tally.
Adrian D'Souza, who was fielded by coach Gerhard Rach after the goalkeeper recovered completely from the hamstring injury he had suffered two days back, had no clue to Abbas' rasping shot that drew parity.
D'Souza, who has had been quite effective in countering Abbas' deadly drag flicks, did not do his usual stuff -- charging out early -- to stop the penalty corner specialist's attempt at the post and that proved costly.
India tried hard for the lead and almost scored a minute after conceding the goal but Tushar Khandekar hit over the bar after getting a pass inside the circle from Arjun Halappa.
With both the teams making frantic efforts to take control of the proceedings, the game saw some end to end hockey but neither side was able to find the back of the net despite coming close to scoring on a number of occasions.
Between 18th to 20th minute of match, India made three attempts at the Pakistan post through Ignace Tirkey, Sandeep Michael and Arjun Halappa, but each time they were denied by goalkeeper Salman Akbar.
Then it was the turn of Pakistan to intensify pressure on their rivals and in the process, they earned three more penalty corners.
D'Souza however charged out early every time Abbas took the shot, thus denying the Pakistanis the chance to take the lead.
The Pakistanis, however, did not have to wait for long to put another goal against their name as Rehan Butt ended his scoring drought by putting Pakistan in lead with a stunning field goal.
Shakeel Abbasi, off a counter attack, took the ball inside the Indian circle before unleashing a powerful reverse shot which was deflected in by Butt.
Pakistan appeared a much improved side in the second half with some purposeful play even though India battled hard to level the scores.
The hosts swelled the lead further when they scored from a variation from their seventh penalty corner. After Abbas came up with a carpet shot, Mudassar Ali deflected in with a deft touch to send the big crowd in a frenzy.
The two goal deficit frustrated the Indians who tried very hard to reduce the margin and were successful in their endeavour when Sandeep Singh converted the side's fourth penalty corner. However, thier efforts to get the equaliser were thwarted by a determined opposition.