The clock showed 1:27s. That moment crystallised India's pulsating 2-1 victory over Pakistan before the hooter. The gangling S.V. Sunil hoisted that match-winning goal in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament on Thursday.
The celebrations triggered by this superb effort need not be portrayed in detail.
Devoid of usual the romance and aesthetics that are part and parcel of an India-Pakistan encounter, the 152nd meeting produced very little to touch the heart, or to bring a lump in your throat. It was a close, unsentimental, tight match on a rain soaked pitch.
To wax eloquent over the verdict is superfluous. The Indians were palpably uncomfortable in the underfoot conditions. There were errors galore. During some phases, the Indians were over circumspect and ponderous.
It was the defenders who were gallant. They managed to guard seven penalty corners — four in the first half — before yielding the equalizer to Sohail Abbas on resumption.
Outstanding in the defence was Birendra Lakra. Notwithstanding a head injury sustained early in the contest, he stood like a bastion effecting neat interceptions and clearances.
It was Birendra's adroit forward pass following an interception that set Sardar Singh on that winning move in the final minute. Sardar waltzed his way and served a lovely pass to Sunil who found the boards with a deceptive shot to beat Imran Shah all ends up.
If Birendra richly deserved his man-of-the-match award, no less praiseworthy was the performance of goal-keeper Chetri.
Barring that solecism, being beaten by a grounder from Sohail, Chetri's work under the bar was adept, athletic and amazing.
Another defender who impressed was the left-half Kothajit Singh. This youngster displayed the gumption to go in for touch tackles and clipped off many a menacing move.
The frontline did not distinguish itself. Shivendra was listless, and so were Tushar and Walmiki. Even Sunil, the ultimate hero of the day, was not in his best element till that momentous moment.
For all the good work in the Indian defence, the Pakistani forwards managed to exert constant pressure. Umar Butta on the right and Haseem Khan from the centre caused a handful of suspenseful moments. Zubair contributed his share to the attack which looked like scoring at any time.
India's first penalty corner surfaced close on half-time. Sandeep Singh produced a stunner of a drag-flick with aplomb to hoist the lead. But for the major part of the second half, Pakistan dictated terms. It restored parity through Sohail Abbas.
The Indians were still at the receiving end with Pakistan surging in repeatedly. The latter had two more penalty corners. But in the closing minutes, India forced two penalty corners which were well defended by the Pakistan's custodian Imran Shah.
“India beat Pakistan and we deserved it,” observed Michael Nobbs. He emphasized that India had indeed played well and was disappointed over the denial of a penalty corner by the New Zealand umpire, David Tomilinson.
Palpably depressed the Pakistani coach, Akbtar Rasool attributed the defeat to the inexperience of the newcomers. He was optimistic that the team would overcome the deficiencies before the Olympics. Skipper Sohail Abbas echoed a similar sentiment.
India has completed the league part with nine points from six matches.
Whether it can still aim for a podium finish largely depends on the outcome of matches slated for Saturday.
Marred by persistent rain neither Korea nor Great Britain did precious little to be described as praiseworthy. The match meandered in a prosaic fashion and seldom rose beyond the notch of mediocrity.
If anything, the Koreans probed the rival area with a modicum of consistency. They hit the lead late in the first half when Yoon Sung Hoon. Britain, quite unexpectedly, showed no sign of urgency and struggled to get the moves to fall into a pattern.
Britain's equalizer emerged midway in the first half through Jonty Clarke who latched on to a pass by Harry Martin. The team however missed a chance to forge ahead consequent to a scramble in front of the Korean goal. Richard Alexnder, who got possession of the ball, flicked it over the post.
Britain has eight points from five matches with a match remaining against Pakistan on Saturday while Korea with five points takes on New Zealand in the last league match.
New Zealand with 12 points from five matches has ensured a place in the final for the first time after beating Malaysia 4-1.
Friday is a rest day.
The results: Korea 1 (Yoon Sung Hoon) drew with Great Britain 1 (Jonty Clarke); India 2 (Sandeep Singh, S.V. Sunil) bt Pakistan 1 (Sohail Abbas); New Zealand 4 (Ryan Archibald, Shea Mcaleese, Nick Wilson, Shay Neal) bt Malaysia 1 (Hanafi Hafiz).
Keywords: Azlan Shah hockey tournament