Sloppy India lose to Pakistan, end tenth

The stage was set for an ideal India-Pakistan contest. The Major Dhyan Chand Stadium witnessed its best attendance in the Hero Hockey Junior World Cup and echoed with raucous cheers.

The excitement, though, soon gave way to disappointment. India went down to their arch-rivals 2-4 in the penalty shoot-out and rounded off their disappointing showing in the tournament with a tenth place finish on Sunday.

It was a below par performance by India, who yet again conceded an early goal in the seventh minute. The Indian defence was caught napping and Pakistan made the most of the opportunity. A long pass from captain Muhammad Umar Bhutta was perfectly trapped by Dilber in the right flank. He sent a precise parallel cross in the front of the goalmouth to Ali Rizwan, who tapped in for a 1-0 lead.

India’s attempts to find the equaliser evoked a feeling of deja vu. Good openings but poor finishing. Pakistan were better in tackles and dominated the ball possession. The Indian forwards failed to make the opportunities count and struggled to go past the maze of Pakistani defence and goalkeeper Mazhar Abbas. The defence was quick in clearing the balls. The dismal performance even got to India coach Gregg Clark who threw his drawing board in disgust.

It was only in the 66th minute that India drew parity. Gurjinder Singh converted  India’s second penalty corner and the match spilled into the penalty shoot-out. 

For India, Gurjinder and Talwinder Singh scored but attempts of Imran Khan and Satbir Singh were stopped by Mazhar. Muhammad Irfan, Muhammad Tousiq, Umar Muhammad Bhutta and Muhammad Dilber were right on the money to carry their team to victory.

The victorious Pakistan team took a victory lap amidst applauding spectators. India shrunk to their dug outs with a lot to reflect on in coming days.

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