Asian Games 2018: India beat Pakistan 2-1, win bronze in men’s hockey
The Indian team, which has been unbeaten in nine matches against their archrivals, showed some nerves as it came out for the bronze medal match, in which it had to survive some nerve-wrecking moments in the fourth and last quarter.Updated: Sep 01, 2018 23:44 IST
A narrow, nervy 2-1 win that could have easily gone the other way salvaged some pride for the Indian men’s team as it edged past archrivals Pakistan to claim the bronze medal at the Asian Games here on Saturday. The bronze medal was small consolation for World No 5 India who were the overwhelming favourite to defend the gold medal they had won four years ago in Incheon.
The Indian team, which has been unbeaten in nine matches against their archrivals, showed some nerves as it came out for the bronze medal match, in which it had to survive some nerve-wrecking moments in the fourth and last quarter.
For India, Akashdeep Singh and Harmanpreet Singh scored a goal each, whereas Muhammad Atiq reduced the margin for Pakistan.
The match did not follow script one anticipates in a contest between a team ranked 5th in the world and another languishing at 13th as India were at the receiving end, especially in the dying minutes with Pakistan mounting an all-out attack.
Even otherwise, the Pakistanis had more ball possession, at least in the second quarter, when they created a few chances only to fritter them away. Overall, Pakistan earned four penalty corners as against India’s two.
The Indians, who had won their last encounter 4-0 at the Champions Trophy, seemed to have learned little from their shocking defeat to Malaysia in the semi-final. They made the same mistakes and the players, including veteran Sardar Singh and SV Sunil, were poor in passing, which gave Pakistan lot of chances.
India started on a bright note and grabbed an early lead when Akashdeep Singh scooped the ball past Pakistani goalkeeper Imran Butt into the top right corner in the third minute.
However, a counter-attack soon after saw India almost losing the advantage when Safqat Rasool’s reverse hit from the left flank hit the post and rebounded into play.
The Indians in panic started committing more errors, failing to trap routine long balls but somehow managed to keep the Pakistanis at bay.
India got their first penalty in the 50th minute and Harmanpreet Singh made it count by sounding the board with a powerful grounder.
But within two minutes, the smiles were back on the Pakistani faces as Muhammad Atiq scored a fantastic field goal. Meanwhile, India failed to capitalize on the second penalty corner when Rupinderpal Singh’s shot was far away from the post in the very next minute.
India survived some anxious moments in the last eight minutes of the match as Pakistan threw everything at them but could not score.
“This wasn’t the medal for which we came here. But something is better than nothing and we are happy that we are not going back home empty handed. We fought each and every moment of the game for this,” said coach Harendra Singh.
First Published: Sep 01, 2018 17:48 IST