CWG 2018: Pakistan nets late equaliser to deny India win

Pakistan denied India a win by converting a controversial penalty corner in the dying seconds of the match.

Pakistan players celebrate after scoring the second goal to draw the match 2-2 against India.   -  AP

The application of technology is certainly a plus point for any game, be it the players, the spectators or the ever-present media. In that context, it can be only judged that India was a bit more than unlucky in having to be deadlocked in a 2-2 draw against Pakistan at the Gold Coast hockey centre here on Saturday.

The dice had rolled well for the country all along this high-octane Pool B match in men’s hockey of the XXI Commonwealth Games, but when it shuddered to a halt all of a sudden with just a few seconds remaining for the conclusion of the encounter, it marked an unhappy tiding that will now haunt the lovers of the sport back home and elsewhere for a long, long time to come.

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True that no one will complain on what came out of the video referrals, which was employed twice well after the hour, but what can cause a furious debate – if it is not already on – is whether the Singaporean judge, Lim Hong Zhen, was correct with his decision to seek those referrals, falling prey to the tactics and tantrums of the Pakistani players.

Hardly seven seconds remained on the clock when a penalty corner was awarded in favour and as it failed to find for Pakistan the much-wonted equaliser, it had seemed that the game was going to end in India’s favour at 2-1.

But then, sadly it was not to be so, as Mubashar Ali creped the ball past the Indian custodian P. R. Sreejesh with a low screeching shot after Pakistan were successful with both the reviews they asked for, complaining that in each of the occasion when the penalty corners were taken, the ball had touched one of the Indian defenders.

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The Indians, naturally, were left stunned and had no words to say reflecting on what transpired against them, not knowing whether to blame themselves or the judge for losing those two vital points.

Otherwise, the match, which saw a large section of migrants from both the countries spending as much as $ (Aus) 400 for a seat, was a great exhibition of the Asian flavour in the game spicing up the other activities in the Games as such.

The two sides were engaged in a keen battle until India started to dominate with well-orchestrated moves through both the flanks. And in doing so, the Indians were also able to forge ahead when one of their forays saw S.V. Sunil dart the ball into the Pakistan goal with utmost precision and Dilpreet Singh taking full advantage of that.

Pakistan responded well to negate the lead but failed with all its plans in doing so when India again scored through Harmanpreet Singh who drag flicked a penalty corner for a 2-0 lead. The going was just as good until the breather. On resumption the game was set on a slower pace but this did not stop either side in the search for goals.

It was the turn of Pakistan next and this came around when Muhammad Irfan (jr) tapped the ball in, taking control of a rebound off a Muhammad Rizwan attempt. This gave the side a definite lifeline but it not until it was well past the hour that it turned helpful for Pakistan to save itself from disgrace and stop India from keeping the match to itself.