Defending champion India came from behind twice to hold arch-rival Pakistan to a 3-3 draw in a thrilling opening match of the Sultan of Johor Cup junior men’s hockey tournament here on Friday.
Goals from Amandeep Lakra (30th minute), Aditya Arjun Lalage (56th) and Uttam Singh (59’th) ensured a point for India after Arbaz Ahmad (31st, 58th) and Abdul Shahid (49th) scored for Pakistan.
Both the teams lived up to the billing in the opening match of the tournament, considered as a litmus test for all participating sides ahead of the forthcoming men’s Junior World Cup to be held in Malaysia this December.
The first big scoring opportunity came in the 12th minute but India’s Angad Bir Singh’s shot went across the goal with no one at the far end to tap the ball in.
Despite coming close to scoring multiple times, neither side could finish in most part of the first two quarters. The defending champions finally drew first blood in the 30th minute, seconds before the half-time hooter through drag-flicker Amandeep.
But a minute after the change of ends, Pakistan drew level through a penalty corner conversion by Arbaz Ahmad.
Pakistan managed to build on the equaliser, taking the lead in the 49th minute when its captain Abdul Shahid scored past Indian goalkeeper Mohit.
India pressed hard and secured a penalty corner in the 50th minute, only to be denied by the Pakistan. With five minutes left on the clock, India found another opportunity through another penalty corner and this time Aditya scored from a rebound.
Just under three minutes from the final hooter, Pakistan restored its lead when a penalty corner was well-converted by Arbaz.
With minutes left in the game, Uttam scored a brilliant field goal to save India. India will take on hosts Malaysia on Saturday.
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