Pakistan deals a blow to India’s hopes

Sardar Singh dribbles past Pakistani player during their Pool B hockey match at 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea on Thursday.

Sardar Singh dribbles past Pakistani player during their Pool B hockey match at 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

South Korea beats Malaysia, confirms semifinal berth

The element of romance usually associated with an India-Pakistan hockey contest was absent on Thursday at the Asian Games. Yet the intensity was there as defending champion Pakistan picked up full points beating India 2-1 in a pulsating Pool B contest to make the semifinals.

There was vibrancy in the Pakistan attack with Shafqat Rasool repeatedly putting pressure on the Indian defenders. India was handicapped to a great extent by the absence of Rupinderpal Singh, who is nursing a groin injury sustained during the match against Oman.

However, Birendra Lakra valiantly cut short quite a few moves. However, the midfield, India’s strong point, was inconsistent. Barring Gurbaj, who put across many incisive forward passes, none, including Sardar Singh, played to potential.

However, it was Sardar’s crisp cross to Kothjit that paved the way for Nikhin Thimmiah to score the equaliser in the final quarter after Pakistan had taken the lead in the third quarter.

Bewildered goalkeeper

India’s goalkeeper Sreejesh was a bit bewildered by the sequence of attacks by Omar Bhutta while conceding the lead. He padded the shot rather tentatively but Shakeel Butt followed it up quickly with a reverse flick. That unsettled Sreejesh, and as the ball rebounded again Bhutta showed excellent opportunism to slot the ball home.

But, despite indications of a draw, the equaliser India gained proved evanescent.

A combined attack by Pakistan fashioned from the right resulted in a goalmouth scrimmage that culminated in Waqas Muhammad scoring with six minutes left.

Pakistan, with nine points, is assured of a semifinals spot, with a match remaining against Oman.

India faces the much sharper China in the last encounter on September 27 to finish possibly as the second team from the pool. India has six points.

Meanwhile, with three wins in a row in Pool A, South Korea beat Malaysia 2-1 and confirmed its semifinal berth with nine points.

The results: Men: Pool A: Japan 13 (Toshiro Tachibana 3, Kanta Tanaka 3, Koji Kayukawa, Lippi Fujimoto 2, Kanji Kitasato, Katsuyoshi Nagasawa, Hiroki Sakamoto, Ono Tomomori) bt Singapore 0; South Korea 2 (Nam Hynwoo 2) bt Malaysia 1 (Muhammad Jalil).

Pool B: Oman 3 (Muhammad Ashoor, Muhammad Hoobais, Muha Nasser Ali) bt Sri Lanka 1 (Ishanka Kumara); Pakistan 2 (Omar Bhutta, Waqas Muhammad) bt India 1 (Nikkin Thimmiah). Friday’s matches: Women: Pool B: Japan vs Kazakhstan (9.30 a.m.); Korea vs Hong Kong (3.30 p.m.).

Pool A: China vs Thailand (11.30 a.m.); India vs Malaysia (1.30 p.m.)

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 4:06:01 PM |

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