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India stun Pakistan 3-1, reach final of four-nation hockey
March 13, 2009 22:07 IST
India on Friday pumped in three first half goals to stun fancied Pakistan 3-1 and set up a summit clash with the arch-rivals in the final of the Genting Four-Nation Under-21 Hockey Tournament at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
Playing firebrand hockey right from the start, the Indians scored through Pramod Kumar (1st min), Diwakar Ram (14th min) and Danish Mujtaba (19th min) to lead 3-0 at breather.
Pakistan reduced the margin in the 51st minute with a penalty corner strike by Muhammad Attique.
The traditional rivals will feature in Sunday's summit clash at the same venue.
This was India's third convincing win in as many days. Earlier they had outplayed hosts Malaysia and then demolished Singapore.
For Pakistan, it was their first defeat of the tournament.
India pressurised the Pakistan defence from the opening minute. Skipper Diwakar Ram's crisp hit on the right flank was relayed by Mandip Antil for wily striker Pramod Kumar to connect past rival goalkeeper Imran Butt and give India lead.
The Pakistan defence were caught on the wrong foot as India mounted their raids with crafty stick-work and ball skills by Danish Mujtaba and Victo Singh.
Midfielders Belsajar Horo, Manjeet Kullu and Vikas Sharma denied Pakistan space to orchestrate their attacks keeping their dangerous forwards Haseem Khan and Mohd Zubair at bay.
India were awarded a penalty corner in the 14th minute after defender Aamir Shahzad had blocked Pramod Kumar and Diwakar Ram flicked high on the top left to make it 2-0.
India followed this up with electrifying pace rattling their opponents as wingers Mandip Antil and Victo Singh made dangerous down the line forays.
Soon after Danish Mujtaba shot home a beauty with a forceful backhand from the edge of the circle, after beating a host of defenders, to consolidate the scoreline to 3-0.
Pakistan had a chance to pull one back just before the breather but Syed Adeel Hussain was unlucky to hit the post.
After half time, India slowed the pace, making rapid substitutions and displaying superior ball control and possession. They won two penalty corners but the attempts from Diwakar were foiled by Butt.
Pakistan eventually reduced the margin when Attique converted a penalty corner in the 51st minute after Vikas Sharma had committed a breach.
Indian coach A K Bansal was pleased with the result but warned his team not to read too much into the victory.
"It is the final on Sunday which is our target," He said, warning his wards that a wounded Pakistan would hit back with vengeance in the summit clash.