India beat Pakistan to top Pool A in Asia Cup hockey

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Dhaka, Oct 15: India defeated arch-foes Pakistan 3-1 to top Pool A in Asia Cup at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

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Chinglensana Singh (17th minute), Ramandeep Singh (43rd minute) and Harmanpreet Singh (45th) scored for India. For Pakistan, Ali Shan scored the reducer in the fourth quarter.

India will now move into the second round of Super 4s where the top teams from both the pool will play in round-robin format before the knockouts.

Pakistan, with four points, also advanced to the second round. 

Earlier on Sunday, Japan outclassed hosts Bangladesh to boost their tally to four points. And it meant that Pakistan knew that even if they lose against India, the margin of defeat should not be nine in order to jeopardise their chance of making it to the second round.

In their last two encounters, Pakistan had conceded 13 goals combined against India.

But this time, Pakistan played competitive hockey from the very beginning. In the first quarter, they did really show to India that they can cause trouble. They earned a penalty corner in the 14th minute but the Indian defence was up to the task.

India, who had not created a proper goal-scoring chance in the first quarter, got the lead in the 17th minute. Akashdeep Singh stole a ball in the left midfield and played it to a surging Chinglensana, who raced to the top of the circle before unleashing a powerful drive to make it 1-0.

After that, Pakistan had to face a barrage of counter-attacks from India. But they didn’t succumb. Pakistan earned their second penalty corner in the 20th minute but it still didn’t give them the equaliser.

India then mounted further pressure on Pakistan but to no avail. At the beginning of the third quarter, Pakistan’s Abu Mahmood and Muhammad Rizwan Sr were yellow carded for indisciplined defending. But India failed to make the most of their numerical advantage. 

Pakistan too launched a couple of counter-attacks. In one instance, India goalkeeper Akash Chikte had to rush ahead to deny Akbar Waqas.

Interestingly, Indian got their second goal when Pakistan were back playing with 11 players. A long pass from right midfield from Harmanpreet at the Pakistan post was touched by an unmarked and diving Ramanpreet in the 43rd minute.

Two minutes later, India doubled their advantage after drag-flicker Harmanpreet marked his fifth goal of the tournament as he fired to the left corner of the post to make it 3-0.

Ali reduced the goal difference to two when he fired home a rebound after a block from Chikte off Umar Bhutta’s attempt at goal.

However, India didn’t let Pakistan come back into the match and pressurised them with three penalty corners in the late minutes. Harmanpreet & Co., however, failed in converting them and India won the game 3-1.