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2018 Commonwealth Games: Indian hockey team held to 2-2 draw by Pakistan

India conceded late as Pakistan came back from two goals down to hold their arch-rivals to a 2-2 draw in their opening hockey match at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

other sports Updated: Apr 07, 2018 14:31 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Gold Coast
India's Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, left, and Pakistan's Muhammad Rizwan compete for the ball during their match at the Hockey Center during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday.
India's Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, left, and Pakistan's Muhammad Rizwan compete for the ball during their match at the Hockey Center during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday.(AP)

“This is not the team that I have been coaching for the last five months,” India coach Sjoerd Marijne retorted in his first comments after his team was held to a 2-2 draw by Pakistan in its opening preliminary league match in Gold Coast on Saturday. (IND v PAK HIGHLIGHTS)

The coach was right, India did not play like they had been playing in the last couple of years against Pakistan, running up an unbeaten 7-0 streak against the arch-rivals. They looked disjointed, did not use the length nad breadth of the pitch properly and allowed Pakistan to make a comeback in the match. They would have to thank their luck and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh that they did not lose the match.

The old habit of conceding late goals came back to haunt India as they were held to a 2-2 draw, conceding the equaliser off a penalty corner in the last seconds. The PC was awarded to Pakistan off a video referral after the ball was adjudged to have hit the foot of an Indian player.

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It was a match of two halves as India scored once in each of the first two quarters to take a 2-0 lead at half-time. Dilpreet Singh scored a field goal and Harmanpreet converted a penalty corner.

But Pakistan came back strongly as the Indians sat deep. India had launched some good attacks in the first half and controlled the game. But in the second they went defensive and allowed Pakistan to dictate terms.

They made it 1-2 when Mohd Arslan scored off a beautifully orchestrated quick silver counter attack.

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The Indians launched couple of decent attacks but they lacked the intensity and purpose. Errors started creeping into their game and in the final quarter their game fell apart. They lost Chinglensana Singh to a yellow card in the final quarter which allowed Pakistan to launch their final assault on the Indian goal and score off a penalty corner.

Coach Marijne admitted his boys played poorly. “May be it was the pressure of playing Pakistan or because they were playing their first match. We could not play our usual game and allowed them to come back. We will sit down with the players and discuss what went wrong. The tournament is not over yet,” Marijne said.

His players will definitely have to pull themselves up by their boot straps as any more slipup in this group may jeopardise their chances of reaching the semifinals as group toppers and avoid hosts Australia in the semifnals. England have already made a good start by beating Malaysia by a big margin.