India Tops Table By Punching Pakistan.
ACT Hockey: The host overpowers the opponent by 4-0, Now the India will take on Japan in the semifinals match.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Harmanpreet Singh may have faced flak for missing penalty corners by the dozen but when it came to the crunch, the India captain stood up and delivered for a 4-0 Victory against Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy here on Wednesday. The result not just kept India unbeaten on top of the points table but also knocked the opponent out of the semifinals, dropping to fifth spot-level with Korea and Japan on five points - but with an inferior goal difference.
India earned five PCs and converted three, twice by Harmanpreet and one by Jugraj with a brilliant exchange by Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh resulting in the latter slotting in the final goal five minutes from time. It also extended India's unbeaten streak against the arch-rival to 15 games now. The difference between the two sides became evident as the match wore on. Despite starting on level terms and hoping to take India by surprise with an aggressive play early on, Pakistan's inexperience, waywardness and inability to switch gears was laid bare through the game.
India's fitness too saw the team stepping up the pace towards the end, taking control of the proceedings. It was a frenetic but tentative and nervous start as both sides sought to attack and take an early lead but also wary of conceding instead. It led to some exciting exchange of possession and end-to-end hockey and scoring chances for both sides in the opening minutes itself and Pakistan went ahead in the second minute through a goal from Abdul Hannan Shahid- or so it thought -before a referral instead awarded a PC that was saved. The young Pakistan side was relentless, constantly testing the Indian defence with the trio of Shahid, Afraz and Abdul Rana combining well and Arshad Liaqat and Umar Bhutta tireless in the middle.
The Indians got their own chances but, between taking too long to get into shooting position and hurrying with their passes, they missed as many as they created. But Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Sumit and Shamsher Singh didn't stop pushing up and the constant pressure wore down the opposition, minute by minute. Eventually, a superior India had enough in the tank to outlast the opponent. Earlier, Malaysia beat Korea 1-0 for its fourth win in five outings to finish second. The latter remained third, setting up a rematch of the two sides in the semifinals. In the other action of the day, Japan recorded a narrow 2-1 win against China, scoring at the beginning and end of the game but it was enough for it to make the top-four.
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