Arch-rivals India and Pakistan play out a thrilling draw in Hockey 9s
Perth: India produced a much improved show after their opening match loss as they played out a 1-1 draw against arch-rivals Pakistan in a thrilling league match of the Lanco International Super Series Hockey 9s on Friday.
India, who had lost to New Zealand 3-6 in their opening match, were the more dominant side of the two for most part of the fast-paced match but they were also lucky not to have lost the match as Pakistan wasted a penalty stroke.
Substitute goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, who replaced his captain Bharat Chetri in the second half, saved the stroke taken by Waseem Ahmad a couple of minutes before the final hooter.
Sreejesh came out early and made a neat clearance to the relief of the tense Indian camp.
It was Pakistan who scored first in the 12th minute through veteran Waseem Ahmad as he gently pushed the ball home from close range.
But Pakistan's lead lasted less than a minute as India's Ravi Pal scored the equaliser with a diving reverse stick shot with Manjit Kullu and V Raghnath playing big role in serving the ball upfront.
The goal was Pal's second in the tournament.
In the second half, India had chances to take the lead but Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Shah spoilt the chances got by Sunil and Tushar Kandkar.
In the final moments of the match, India got another chance when Yuvraj Walmiki tapped a loose ball on the top of the circle but he failed to get it past the goalie.
Pakistan came out strongly in spells but barring captain Sohail Abbasi, others were rusty in their attack.
In the dying moments, Pakistan got a couple of moves that threatened the Indian defence and it took Gurbaj Singh, Manjit Kullu and Sardar Singh put extra effort to see that the scoreline remained unchanged.
India coach Michael Nobbs seemed a relived man at the end of the match as he expressed satisfaction over his wards performance.
"We did a good job. We had the better of exchanges and had more penetration than Pakistan," he said.
"I would have been happier had we won it," he added.
Hailing Sreejesh, who stopped the penalty stroke, Nobbs said, "We are good at one to one situation as we showed during the Champions Trophy. It is good that we again proved it again here."