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India beat Pakistan in fifth Test
February 24, 2006 20:18 IST
India muffed chances galore before pulling off a much-needed 2-1 victory over Pakistan in the fifth hockey Test in Faisalabad on Friday.
This was India's first victory, after three consecutive defeats at home and a draw in Lahore, and salvaged some pride for the Asia Cup winners.
Pakistan already have an unassailable 3-1 lead in the six-match series.
Pakistan took the lead through Imran Warsi. India equalised through Rajpal Singh and Kanwalpreet Singh scored the winner.
India, unlike in the last four matches, dominated the proceedings and forced nine penalty-corners, three consecutive, but each of them was a case of how never to take a penalty-corner. The one off which Kanwalpreet scored the match-winner came off a rebound. The Indian full-back had ample time and space to send a rasping drive home.
India enjoyed territorial advantage, made most of the moves and had the midfield, for once, putting in a huge effort, with Prabodh Tirkey giving outstanding display.
Pakistan, on the other hand, seemed relaxed, though it must be said the Indian defence played better than they had in the other matches of series, closing the gaps and, most importantly, backing each other.
India had a penalty-corner in the sixth minute but there was too much gap between the ball and the stick, the time allowing the Pakistan defence to keep out the flick.
The Indian forwards, enjoying gaps in the Pakistan midfield, created the moves but the finishing was again poor. Vikram Pillay and Arjun Halappa cruised with the ball, their sharp through balls throwing the Pakistan defence in a tizzy.
But, as has been the norm in the series, Pakistan took the lead in the 28th minute through a classic conversion by Imran Warsi(1-0).
He twisted his torso to the right and as Chetri went for his left, threw the flick into the goalkeeper's right hand corner.
With two minutes left in the first half, Didar Singh had a wonderful chance, but he didn't do the elementary procedure forwards follow when facing the goalkeeper -- look up and shoot. Didar's hit went wide off the target.
India had another great move when Ignace Tirkey passed to Shivender whose onward cross dissected the defence but Tejbir, after beating goalkeeper Nasir Ahmed, couldn't control the shot.
In the 36th minute, a minute after resumption, India earned three successive penalty-corners but Sandeep Singh let the ball travel too much, ensuring that the Pakistan defence came on and cleared.
The worrying factor was not India missing penalty-corners, but the mistakes they made. They were so elementary that it exposed the thought behind each of these drills.
In the 38th minute, India again earned a penalty-corner but the indirect shot by Didar Singh was too weak. Tushar Khandekar, conspicuous by his absence, came on and the Indian attack saw some bite emerging.
Pakistan, meanwhile, had also wasted three penalty-corners.
But the move or rather the goal of the series came in the 53rd minute. Rajpal Singh went on a counter-attack and tapped to Vinay, who held the ball till Rajpal entered the striking circle. The Chandigarh Dynamos striker entered the circle with tremendous pace and flicked the ball on the run between two defenders and goalkeeper Ahmed for a classic goal and the equalizer(1-1).
India were pushing now and they earned two penalty-corners in the 56th minute. After failing with the seventh, India took the lead with the eighth conversion. Didar Singh trying an indirect weak flick towards goal and the ball came off a defender's stick.
Kanwalpreet, standing right in the middle of the circle, hammered home to give India the lead.
India could have increased the lead in the 66th minute but their ninth penalty-corner was again wasted, though this time Ahmed came off the line to effect a good save, his stick deflecting the ball away.
Kanwalpreet was declared man-of-the-match. The sixth and last Test is scheduled for February 26, at Rawalpindi.UNI