New Delhi: Men's hockey team gifted India the perfect Diwali gift on Sunday by winning the second Asian Champions trophy after defeating bitter rivals Pakistan 3-2 in the final at Kuantan, Malaysia.
India, the inaugural champions, took a two-goal lead in the first half, with Rupinder Pal Singh (18th minute) and Affan Yousuf (23rd) hitting board.
But Pakistan leveled the scoreline in the fourth quarter itself, with a penalty corner conversion from Aleem Bilal (26th) and a field goal from Ali Shan (38th).
India found the winning goal through a tireless Nikkin Thimmaiah (51st).
Rupinder, who opened the scoring with a penalty corner conversion returned as the top goal-scorer in the fourth edition of the tournament. His tally was 11.
Former captain and medio, Sardar Singh was adjudged Man of the Match. He was instrumental in the second goal, and barring a few blips, was rock-solid in the midfield.
India's case was, however, made stronger by a disciplined defensive line. Even in the absence of mercurial PR Sreejesh, India produced a clinical display and remained unbeaten.
The reigning Asian Games champions thus equalled Pakistan's record of two wins. Hosts Malaysia won bronze medal after defeating South Korea in penalty shoot-out.
India had won the first edition of the tournament in 2011, then lost in the next edition's final to Pakistan. And finished fifth in 2013.