Dhaka: A dominant India continued their unbeaten run in the tournament and thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan 4-0 to sail into the final of the 10th men’s Asia Cup hockey tournament in Dhaka on Saturday.
The sixth ranked India, who just needed a draw to seal a place in tomorrow’s summit clash, produced a superlative performance after the change of ends to pump in four goals—three field strikes and one through penalty corner. Satbir Singh (39th minute), Harmanpreet Singh (51st), Lalit Upadhyay (52nd) and Gurjant Singh (57th) were the scorers for India.
By virtue of this win, India not only topped the Super 4 stage with seven points, but also continued their domination over Pakistan. It was India’s fourth win over Pakistan this year, having beaten them twice in the Hockey World League Semi-finals in London and once in the pool stages in Dhaka.
The defeat knocked Pakistan out of the final race and India will now play either Korea or Malaysia, who play later in the day, in the final. Contrary to the result, the Indians were slow to get off the blocks, while Pakistan were the better side in terms of possession in the first two quarters. Pakistan had three chances via penalty corners to take the lead in the first quarter, but wasted all.
The Indians secured the first penalty corner in the final minute of the opening quarter, but Harmanpreet messed up the opportunity. After Ramandeep Singh’s shot was saved by Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali in the 23rd minute, India defended well to deny their rivals from another short corner. Minutes later, Harmanpreet hit the cross bar from India’s second penalty corner as both the teams failed to break the deadlock at half time. But India looked more organised after the change of ends and dominated the proceedings in the final two quarters. Satbir gave India the lead in the 39th minute after receiving a fine back stick pass from Lalit. Minutes later, Harmanpreet’s effort from India’s third set piece was saved by Amjad Ali.
The Indians created chances in the final few minutes of the third quarter but Pakistan custodian Amjad Ali was upto the mark to keep Pakistan in the hunt. India wasted two more penalty corners in a span of two minutes as Amjad Ali made multiple saves to deny their opponents.
India pressed on the gas in the final 10 minutes and scored three goals in a span of six minutes to run away with the game. While Harmanpreet Singh scored his seventh goal of the tournament from India’s sixth penalty corner, Lalit made it 3-0 a minute later by pouncing on a loose ball inside the D. India added salt to Pakistan’s wounds when Gurjant slotted home three minutes from the final hooter after receiving a precision pass from Akashdeep Singh from the right flank.