India draw 2-2 with Pakistan
Malacca (Malaysia): India twice came back from a goal down to eke out a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Pakistan in a pool match of the seventh Junior men`s Asia Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday.
In a match in which fortunes swung each minute, Pakistan took the lead twice but the Indians come back to equalise.
India now have four points with a win and a draw and will meet China in the last pool match on Monday. India needs a draw to enter the semis. India won Sri Lanka 11-0 on Friday.
Forward Dilber Muhammad put Pakistan ahead in the fifth minute after quick exchange of the ball with winger Irfan Muhammad. India replied 20 minutes later through experienced Amit Rohidas, who made an immaculate penalty corner conversion.
Five minutes into the lemon time, Irfan Md. Bounced on to a penalty corner rebound to give Pakistan 2-1 lead.
Pakistan kept exerting pressure to expand the lead but India was up to the task as captain Akashdeep Singh latched onto a midfield pass from Surender Kumar to again neutralize the lead and help India to salvage a point in the hotly contested match.
Akashdeep`s shot from the right hit the goalie, fell between his legs, and tricked slowly to cross the dreaded white-line much to the agony of the Pakistan team.
Pakistan waged a grim battle to post goals, and came close on many occasions but the poor finish let them down.
India goalkeeper Sushant Tirkey played his heart out to deny Pakistan many chances that included four penalty corners in the last phase of the match.
"I am not happy, especially with the defence. We gave away many easy penalty corners. However, considering both teams were eager to win this match, the result seems to me a fair one," said Indian coach Baljit Singh Saini.
Pakistan coach Rana Mujahid also felt there were a lot of positives in the match.
"When we played India last time that was in the Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Bahru in Malaysia we lost badly. We were beaten 1-5. From that we have made much progress, we took lead twice today. So, I see lot of positives in the match," Pakistan coach Rana Mujahid said.
"India is hosting the Junior World Cup next year and are preparing well. This result is good for my boys. I also compliment your goalkeeper," he added.