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Ipoh: Casting aside a mood of depression and the lethargy that prompted it against China on Thursday, India produced a heart-warming show against Pakistan on Friday.
Battling odds on a heavy pitch after a downpour that interrupted the earlier match by 54 minutes, India outplayed Pakistan 4-2 in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament. The outcome stamped the fact that the 4-1 victory over Pakistan in the recent World Cup was no aberration.
Though the usual fizz, finesse and fluency that predominate an India-Pakistan encounter was lacking, probably on account of the damp pitch, with puddles of water in some parts, the Indian team shaped well in majority of the moves.
Arjun Halappa made all the difference. Functioning as the pivot providing perfect openings, he was eye-catching in everything he did.
Equally outstanding and more energetic was the right half Gurjaj Singh, the hero for India. He seems to be improving match after match. His consistency level is amazing. Not surprisingly, he was named the player of the match.
Gurbaj was the designer in three goals. He provided an accurate hit for Mandip Antil to obtain an impeccable deflection into the boards for the second goal.
Then Gurbaj flashed into the picture as the scorer, latching on to a long ball by Shivendra and helped Tushar Khandekar net the fourth goal in style.
The mid-field strength was pronounced in the display of Halappa, Bharath Chikkara, and Gurbaj. In the deep defence Sardar Singh worked hard smother whatever individual sallies that Pakistanis made.
However, the defence conceded a penalty stroke hen Rupinder Singh was penalised for obstruction by the Ghanian umpire, Richmond Attipoe.
Imran Muhammad flicked in for the equaliser. The second Pakistan goal came four minutes before the final whistle through Ali Kashif.
India, which has four points, had six corners against the three by Pakistan, the last two of which came in the last four minutes.
Harendra Singh attended the post-match conference after Jose Brasa, India's foreign coach, met the South African Tournament Director, Paul Richards, this morning and explained satisfactorily the reasons for his inability to take part in the media conferences.
Harendra was happy that the team was able to work together on Friday. He conceded that certain experiments planned had gone awry thus far, and hoped the team would be more confident when it meets Korea on Sunday.
In other matches, a young Aussie squad picked up pace and precision late in the second half in a rain interrupted contest to blank Egypt 4-0.
Malaysia put across a spirited display to hold the Asian champion, Korea, to a 1-1 on draw.
Saturday is a rest day.
Australia 4 (Gran Schubert, Christipher Cirello, Matt Goldes, Kieran Govers) bt Egypt 0:
India 4(Sardara Singh, Mandip Antil, Gurbaj Singh, Tushar Khandekar) bt Pakistan 2 (Imran Muhammad, Kashif Ali).
Korea 1 (Oh Dae Keun) drew with Malaysia 1 (Aslam Misrom)..
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