A spirited India notched up a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Pakistan in a must-win match to keep its alive its hopes in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Tuesday.
A loss today for India, which has lost its first two matches, would have shut the door on Michael Nobbs’ wards.
But, it was not to be, as India scored through Rupinder Pal Singh (5th minute), Akashdeep Singh (9th) and Mandeep Singh (56th) to seal the issue in its favour after Mohammad Waqas had put Pakistan ahead in the fourth minute of the game.
With this win, India has moved up to fourth in the team’s standings, ahead of Pakistan, with three points from as many games.
Pakistan’s efforts produced result immediately when Waqas deflected in skipper Muhammad Imran’s flick after it tried a variation from its first penalty corner.
But the Indians bounced back quickly as they pumped in two goals in a span of five minutes to stun their neighbours.
Rupinder restored parity for India in the fifth minute converting India’s only penalty corner of the match with a fierce drag-flick which beat Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Shah.
Four minutes later, an opportunist Akashdeep put India ahead, slamming in a rebound after Nithin Thimmiah’s initial shot was stopped by the Pakistan custodian.
Pakistan had an off day in the office which can be gauged from the fact that it only managed to convert one out of the eight penalty corners that came its way.
The Pakistanis also found it difficult to get the better of an agile P.R. Sreejesh, who was brilliant under the Indian goal.
Sreejesh was in ominous form as he came up with as many as six to seven brilliant saves, one of which came just at the stroke of half-time, to deny the Pakistanis any scoring chance.
Leading 2-1, the Indians looked more organised after change of ends even as Pakistan desperately searched for the equaliser.
Pakistan’s task became even more difficult when Mandeep scored India’s third goal in the 56th minute. Mandeep scored from a rebound after his initial touch was gloved away by Shah.
Trailing 1-3, the stunned Pakistanis pressed hard and in the process earned three penalty corners but Sreejesh stood in between them and goal on all the three occasions.
After a rest day on Wednesday, India will play defending champion New Zealand, while Pakistan will be up against host Malaysia.
The results: New Zealand 3 (Hugo Inglis 4, Cory Bennett 12, Andy Hayward 42) bt South Korea 0; India 3 (Rupinder Pal Singh 5, Akashdeep Singh 9, Mandeep Singh 56) bt Pakistan 1 (Mohammad Waqas 4); Malaysia 1 (Faizal Saari 69) drew with Australia 1 (Trent Mitton 34).