It was billed as the clash of arch-rivals. It ended up being a one-sided display of pure excellence and dominance as India thrashed Pakistan 10-2 in their Pool A match here on Saturday.
This is the highest ever margin of victory for India against Pakistan and the first time India has scored more than seven goals in 180 face-offs so far.
Even if the superiority of the Indian team is considered, evident in the Asian Champions Trophy just over a month ago, this was clinical to the point of ruthless.
Back then Pakistan, despite losing, had shown traces of individual brilliance and signs of going down fighting. On Saturday, there was barely any evidence of either. The result assures India of a semifinal spot with a last league match against Bangladesh yet to come.
India dominated from the beginning and broke ahead early, Mandeep Singh deflecting in a pass from Abhishek in the 8th minute.
There was wave after wave of Indian attack as the young and inexperienced Pakistan side struggled to keep pace with the Indians’ speed. The Indians simply ran away with the ball at will, took shots at the goal that more often than not were on target and then fell back in numbers to defend before the Pakistan forwards had a chance to break through.
The second quarter was slightly better for Pakistan with a couple of chances that India had to scramble to save.
The change of ends added a little spark to the Pakistan efforts, earning a series of penalty corners – they had a total 9 PCs to India’s 5 – and converting twice. Captain Umar Bhutta was the lone bright spot running everywhere to keep his flock together and there was some desperate diving to trap and save Indian attacks but there was only so much the team could do.
So completely was India over the opposition that defender Varun Kumar, lurking inside the Pakistan circle, scored a field goal in the 41st minute, deflecting in Sukhjeet Singh’s pass. By then, India was already six goals up.
“It was just off the back of the Japan game and I wasn’t happy with the way we ended that so we wanted to set a marker for a complete game and we were pretty consistent all four quarters. I am not worried about the score, that is a result of good performance, it’s more about us finding out how we play to our strengths, it’s the structure we are after,” coach Craig Fulton admitted.
And captain Harmanpreet, with his four goals – two penalty corners and two strokes -- insisted the team wasn’t getting ahead of it despite the massive win.
“We are not thinking about the semifinals, we are going match-by-match only. It doesn’t matte who we meet in the semis, it is important for us to be prepared for anyone. No team can be easy so focus is on the one we play next,” Harmanpreet said.
Our mindset is to get something every time we enter the circle, a goal or a shot on target or a PC and we all did that today. In modern hockey you cannot be easy, teams can score at any moment so at half time we talked about staying mentally strong and to not repeat mistakes,” he added.
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