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India to meet Pakistan in final

Karthik Krishnaswamy
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HANDBALL / Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan to play out for last place

TACKLE: Pakistan's Naveen Asif (left) is about to score a goal against Uzbekistan in the Asian Continental Challenge handball tournament in Chennai on Sunday. — PHOTO: S.S. Kumar
TACKLE: Pakistan's Naveen Asif (left) is about to score a goal against Uzbekistan in the Asian Continental Challenge handball tournament in Chennai on Sunday. — PHOTO: S.S. Kumar

Pakistan set up a final-day title clash with India at the IHF men's Asian Continental Challenge handball tournament after beating Uzbekistan 42-31 here on Sunday.

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, with two defeats each, will meet on Monday to determine which team finishes last, before the two undefeated South Asian neighbours contest the decider.

Dominant show

Pakistan dominated from start to finish, across pretty much every area of the court. Uzbekistan's only solace came from left-back Sergey Reznikov and left-wing Andrey Miroshichenko, who between them scored more than half their team's goals and combined purposefully in defence to keep the Pakistan right-wing Muhammad Zubair relatively quiet.

Denied space in wide areas, Zubair found more success by drifting in and using his leap to score from the centre-back zone.

He also drew defenders towards him with this movement, thereby freeing up space for his teammates.

On Saturday, Uzbekistan staged a strong second-half comeback against India by shutting out its right flank.

No such thing was possible here, against a better-balanced opponent. When Zubair was quiet, other players stepped up — left-wing Makhdoom Hussain was a constant threat on the counter and Mubeen Ashraf, who rotated between centre-back and right-back, was unerring with his 7-meter throws. Pivot Khurram Javed scored five goals, including the most eye-catching finish of the match, plucking Zubair's loopy pass and releasing an instant later, all of this while leaping headlong out of a clutch of Uzbek defenders.

The results: Pakistan 42 (Muhammad Mubeen Ashraf 13, Muhammad Zubair 10) bt Uzbekistan 31 (Sergey Reznikov 13, Andrey Miroshichenka 6). Monday's matches: Uzbekistan vs. Kazakhstan (2 p.m.); India vs. Pakistan (4 p.m.) .

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