India U-21 trounce Pakistan 5-1 to stay afloat

Johor Bahru: India capitalised on defensive lapses to trounce arch-rivals Pakistan 5-1 and keep themselves in the reckoning in the Sultan of Johor Cup U-21 hockey tournament.

After being locked 1-1 at the breather, the Indians came out as a transformed side after the change of ends pumping in four more goals in the action packed session.

Harpreet Singh, M. Guanasekar, Malak Singh, Amit Rohidas and Ramandeep Singh scored for India while Aleem Bilal was the lone scorer for Pakistan.

Pakistan started off in a whirlwind fashion as they earned their first penalty corner in the second minute itself.

Bilal`s powerful hit found the back of the net. For the Indians, Harpreet Singh equalized when he successfully converted the fourth penalty corner in the 27th minute to make it 1-1.

Both sides played a superb hockey in the first half, India often having the better of exchanges.

Chennai lad Malayalan Gunasekar increased the lead in the 50th minute against the run of play. Gunasekar dived valiantly to deflect a feed from right flank to make it 2-1.

Malak Singh made it 3-1 in the 61st minute with an exquisite move conceived from the left-flank.

Three minutes later, India got a penalty stroke when Satbir Singh`s shot hit a defender in the circle, leading to Australian umpire Ben de Young pointing at the dreaded spot.

Amit Rohidas converted with ease to give his side an unassailable 4-1 lead.

In the closing moments, Ramandeep Sigh, who scored three goals in the last two matches, scored his fourth to round off the tally.

"We focussed on our strengths today and played to a plan and got the results. The victiry will keep us in contention," chief coach said Mukesh Kumar said.

In another match, New Australia thumped trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand 6-1.

PTI

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