Pak beat Ind 3-2 in hockey final
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Last Updated: Sunday, March 15, 2009, 00:00
Johor Bahru, March 15: Indian colts' habit of faltering at the final hurdle continued as they allowed arch-rivals Pakistan two late goals to concede a 2-3 defeat in the final of the Genting four-nation Under-21 hockey tournament here on Sunday.

In a high-voltage encounter at the Taman Daya Stadium here, Pakistan skipper Haseem Abdul Khan fired home the golden goal in the 73rd minute -- three minutes into extra time, much to the disappointment of Indian fans.

Haseem, who was at his best for Pakistan, accounted for two goals and Muhammad Zubair found the net once, while for India Mandip Antil scored both the goals.

The summit clash turned out to be an evenly-contested battle as both the teams played with good pace with Pakistan having the upper edge with robust attacks and hard hitting.

Pakistan should have taken the lead within the first five minutes of the match after Indian goalkeeper Mrinal Chaubey was beaten by Zubair but captain Diwakar Ram, who was adjudged the 'Player of the Tournament', came to India's rescue and brought off a timely save.

Pakistan forwards missed a few deflections in the circle as their mid-fielders constantly sent long passes which pressed panic buttons in the Indian defence.

However, it was the Indians who struck the opening blood from their their first penalty corner in the 22nd minute when striker Pramod Kumar was brought down by Pakistan defender Mohd Irfan.

Diwakar flicked home in characteristic style past custodian Imran Shah, but the Pakistanis protested saying they were not ready.

After a consultation between the umpires the penalty corner was ordered to be retaken and this time Mandip deflected in an indirect shot to give India the lead.

It was all the opening half produced as India colts went into the breather with a 1-0 lead.

After the change of ends, Pakistan applied pressure for the equaliser and they were soon rewarded when Haseem broke past Innocent Kullu and shot past Chaubey to draw parity in the 37th minute.

India again took the lead against the run of the play in the 48th minute from their third penalty corner after Jay Karan was fouled. The Indians repeated the indirect drill with Mandip once again getting the magic touch.

The Indians, however, were unlucky to be denied a penalty stroke shortly when forward Victo Singh was tripped inside the striking circle by Usman Tariq.

In the hunt of the equaliser, Pakistan turned on the heat in the final minutes of the regulation time and it resulted in numerous errors from Indian defenders, who were guilty of faulty trapping and miscued passing.

Zubair intercepted a Belsajar Horo clearance inside India's 23 meter area and after dodging past Kullu and Diwakar found the target in the 67th minute to take the match into extra time.

Hassem then broke the Indians' heart when he found the net just three minutes into the extra time to register a thrilling victory for his side.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, March 15, 2009, 00:00

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