Even before the ball got rolling, a sizeable crowd had gathered at the Perth Hockey Stadium to the witness the contest between India and Pakistan.
The second day of the Lanco SuperSeries nine-a-side tournament saw fans from the sub-continent set up base opposite the main pavilion. The two camps were visible from all sides as fans consistently waved their countries flags.
Outpour of support
Tarunpreet Singh, one of the more vociferous Indian fans, said there was nothing better than supporting India. “We are here in Perth but our heart still beats for our country of birth,” he said. Tarunpreet came to Perth from Punjab in 1995. He added, “If India are not playing, we support the Australian team.”
Given that the crowd had started to cheer the sides much before the match started, the players didn’t disappoint their fans. Both teams put up an improved performance in the fast-paced match, and it was Pakistan who drew first blood. The lead was short-lived as India bounced back to level the score 1-1.
The intensity with which the players operated in the second half, indicated that the first 15 minutes of play hadn't drained them. Though both teams conducted frequent raids in the second half, the scoreline didn't move beyond 1-1.
Pakistan had a golden chance to go one-up in the closing stages, but the chance went abegging. However, the fans went home satisfied. “It was a good match,” said an Indian fan.
Earlier, the Indian women team played out a 1-1 draw against the formidable Australians. In another second round match, Australia beat Malaysia 2-0 to lead the points table.
The Australian men was also impressive in the second round, scoring a thumping 7-1 win over New Zealand to add three points to their kitty.
Men: Drew with Pakistan 1-1
Women: Drew with Australia 1-1
(The writer's trip has been sponsored by Commune Sports & Entertainment)