Johor Bahru: India came up with a sizzling display of attacking hockey to defeat Pakistan 4-0 in a clash of the arch-rivals at the U-21 Sultan of Johor Cup here Wednesday.
The defeat was Pakistan’s first in the tournament while India remained unbeaten and on course for a place in Sunday’s final.
India are a win away from the final and should achieve this by defeating South Korea Thursday while Pakistan face a daunting task of trying to get a win over hosts Malaysia.
Pakistan started off on a fast pace while India was contend with stroking the ball around, awaiting the Pakistani players to make mistakes.
It was Pakistan that had a first look at goal via a penalty corner by Mohammad Tousiq in the fifth minute. But Indian custodian Harjot Sing was equal to the task.
Pakistan then had India pinned in defence as Umar Bhutta, Muhammad Dilber and Muhammad Umair strung some neat passes together but could not pose a danger on the goal.
India was awarded a penalty corner in the 15th minute and Amit Rohidass drag flick came off the upright.
It was a rather lackluster affair for the rest of the half as play was confined to the midfield area.
India came out of the tunnel looking refreshed in confidence and took two minutes to win a penalty corner.
Amit Rohidass relayed the ball to Sukhmanjit Singh whose pile driver of a flick sailed into the roof off the net to give India a 1-0 lead.
And suddenly Pakistan were put on the back foot as India rallied in search of more goals and they were duly rewarded.
Imran Khan doubled the advantage in the 45th minute after a fine dribble by Harjeet Singh on the right flank.
Barely had the cheers died down that India were awarded a penalty stroke when Ramandeep Singh was brought down in full flight by Tousiq. Up stepped Sukhmanjit to put the ball past Mazhar for a 3-0 lead.
In the 61st minute Kothajit Singh broke through on the left and set up a simple tap in for Ramandeep to score India`s fourth and the humiliation was complete.
“It was a great performance from the players and I am both happy and proud. The players played to instructions, not falling into playing the pace of our opponents in the first half,” said Indian team manager Baljit Singh Saini, who had coached the team last year.
“The win was as a result of the ability of the players to finish off the chances created and this augurs well for our quest to make the final.”