Pakistan earned a quarterfinals berth in the FIH Hockey World League after holding arch-rivals India to a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Dragon hockey ground in Antwerp, Belgium on Friday.
Both teams were awarded one point apiece following the encounter. Pakistan now has four points against its name while India has the top spot, claiming seven points from its two wins and a draw.
Earlier, Pakistan started off by fending off an India attack and as a result Rizwan Junior hit Yuvraj Walmiki. then in the 13th minute Ramandeep Singh neatly deflected the hit into the net to take India 1-0 ahead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was in favour of the Greenshirts who won a penalty corner in the 22nd minute of the game which was saved by the goalkeeper but on deflection from the Pakistani attackers, the ball hit the foot of the Indian defender. Subsequently Pakistan was awarded a penalty stroke which was successfully converted by skipper Muhammad Imran, equalising the score 1-1 at half-time.
The third quarter was full of energy and action from both the sides. Soon Pakistan was awarded another penalty stroke in the 37th minute which was converted by Imran dragging a strong hit into the top-right corner to take lead 2-1.
After enjoying a two-minute lead, Pakistan conceded a goal when Ramandeep scored the second goal for his team to equalise 2-2.
“Both the teams did their best, we tried to control our emotions but when it’s India it’s hard for the young players to control their sentiments,” Imran told The Express Tribune after the match. “We played well but missed some chances. If we had converted that last quarter penalty corner, we would have won.”
“I am happy that I scored two goals for my team against India. However, we will go through our mistakes and try to give a better performance in the quarterfinals.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2015.