In world Hockey, contest of India and Pakistan has always made headlines. They have played 3 straight Olympic finals between 56-64 and 8 Asian finals consecutively between 1958 to 1982. Days in the sun of India-Pakistan are now a history.
These days, Senior Hockey of both the countries is going through rough patches. Indians came last at London’12 whereas Pakistan failed to qualify for the first time for the world cup.
Amid this gloomy scenario, all hopes were lying with the Junior lads. Junior Hockey World Cup was the perfect setting. Hockey lovers of both the countries were disappointed by the showing as both the teams failed to move from the group stage to QF.
Both collided for 9th spot match at Major Dhyan Chand National stadium.
It was not a pressure match as both were out of the medal race. Before the match, Pakistani coach Anjum Saeed predicted that the team in pressure will be India as they are playing in front of their crowd. On the other hand, Indian coach Gregg Clark said that India-Pakistan game is always a big match irrelevant of what the setting is. Both the teams were in the game with identical record, won 2- loose 1 and drawn 1.
Match started in front of strong 15000 cheering crowd. Ramandeep who found form in the match against Argentina, was not in the starting line up due to his injury on left shoulder when he scored second goal against Argentina. Harjot was preferred under the bar over Sushant Tirkey.
India opened on good account with some quick attacks. Pakistan soon took control and reduced the pace of the game. They got first clear opportunity and it was converted into goal. Callowness in the defence was clearly visible here. Two Pakistani players were free in the Indian ‘D’ and Rizwan Ali scored the sitter in 7th minute.
It was the fourth time in the tournament that Indians have conceded an early goal. They woke up and made constant attack. Hats off to Pakistani defence line, they didn’t allow Indians any penetration and clear cut chances for goal in the entire first half. Indians are themselves to blame as they could not earn even a single PC in the entire first half.
Second half started with spark. The intensity of the match grew. Indian earned a PC and the drag flick was well saved by flying Pakisani GK. When less than 4 minutes left for the final hooter, cheeky play by Mandeep provided the men in Blue their second penalty corner. Gurjinder flicked it hard in the middle and it was 1-1.
Match went of penalty shootout. Rizwan of Pakistan was the first man to blink. But advantage was lost. Manpreet, the captain should have come to the occasion. Instead, he preferred Imran Khan for it. Pakistan didn’t look behind from here, whereas Satbir missed another.
Only saving grace of the game was display of Gurjinder, the defender with attacking mind. His drag flicks are deadly. He was everywhere on the ground. Overall, it was a bad show by India. Mandeep missed 2 shots on goal. Dribbling of young squad was not fine. Team was idealess about circle penetration and clueless in entire game about the strategy. If it this was not enough, the colts wilted under the pressure of shootout.
This match told a lot of lessons. If India is to rise, then this type of Hockey must never be repeated.