Hangzhou: The Indian men’s hockey team came up with one of its best-ever performances against Pakistan, handing the archrivals an embarrassing 10-2 defeat in a preliminary league match at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday.
The Indian Memn’s hockey team dominated the match with skipper Harmanpreet Singh (11′, 17’, 33′, 34′) scoring four goals and Varun Kumar (41’, 54′) contributing a brace. Mandeep Singh (8′), Sumit (30’), Shamsher Singh (46′), and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (49′) scored a goal each for India to get the win. Muhammad Khan (38′), and Abdul Rana (45′) scored the goals for Pakistan.
This is India’s biggest win against Pakistan in the Asian Games and also in all matches, eclipsing the 7-1 win in the Hockey World League semifinals held in London in 2017.
For many fans, it would also seem like sweet revenge for India’s 1-7 defeat to Pakistan in the final of the 1982 Asian Games. However, former India international Joaquim Carvalho, who played in that 1982 final, said this win should not be rated very highly as this Pakistan is not a patch on the 1982 squad.
“You can’t compare this Pakistan team with any of their former teams. They looked like college boys. Pakistan hockey has gone down totally,” he told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.
Carvalho said the Indian team played well but that was expected as they have been dominating Pakistan in recent matches.
In the field on Saturday, India captain Harmanpreet Singh instantly started testing Pakistan with long passes inside the striking circle. An attacking move from the right flank from Mandeep Singh broke down after a miscommunication with Jarmanpreet Singh. But Mandeep Singh (8′) made up for it a few minutes later, putting the ball into the nets to give India a 1-0 lead.
It was not all one-way traffic as Pakistan too produced some good attacks.
Goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak made a solid save after Pakistan earned an early Penalty Corner, and a minute later, Harmanpreet Singh (11′) successfully converted a penalty stroke to make it 2-0 for India to close out the first quarter.
India earned an early penalty corner at the start of the second quarter, and Harmanpreet Singh (17′) scored the third goal for his side with a powerful drag-flick. Sumit remained alert in defence and deflected the danger away with ease after Pakistan began a counter-attack in search of their first goal.
Veteran Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made a crucial save with his left foot after Pakistan earned a late Penalty Corner. Sumit (30′) deflected the ball into the nets at the stroke of halftime to put India 4-0 ahead heading into the break.
An early error in defence in the second half from Pakistan led to India earning their second penalty stroke, and Harmanpreet Singh (33′) converted it with a picture-perfect scoop to complete his hat-trick. A minute later, the Indian skipper Harmanpreet (34′) converted a penalty corner to make it 6-0 for his side.
Pakistan finally got on board with Muhammad Khan (38′) scoring from a penalty corner of their own.
Varun Kumar (41′) tapped the ball into the nets after receiving a pass from Sukhjeet Singh to make it 7-1 for India. But Pakistan pulled another goal back as Abdul Rana (45′) converted a Penalty Corner. India went into the final quarter with a 7-2 lead.
The fourth quarter started with Shamsher Singh (46′) picking a brilliant pass inside the circle, and turning around to hit it into the nets to make it 8-2 for India. Pakistan offered plenty of space to Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (49′), and the Indian forward struck the 9th goal for his side.
Varun Kumar (54′) scored his second goal of the match from a Penalty Corner to push India’s goal tally into the double figures. PR Sreejesh saved late Penalty corners from Pakistan, and India won the match 10-2.
Indian men’s hockey team will next face off against Bangladesh on Monday (October 2).