The Indian men’s hockey team scripted a stunning 12-2 win over Oman but went down 4-5 against Pakistan at the Men’s Asian Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifier in Salalah, Oman, on Wednesday.
The match started with Pakistan maintaining possession in the early minutes and Ahtisham Aslam (2’) caught India’s defence with a reverse hit to get an early goal. As India tried to get back into the match with a quick move, goalkeeper Ali Raza made a good save and initiated a counter-attack, leading to Aslam (3’) doubling their lead. Maninder Singh tried to hold the ball in the middle, but Zikriya Hayat (5’) intercepted and took a shot from a distance to score another goal for Pakistan. Minutes later Gurjot Singh (12’) made the most of an attacking move from the right flank and scored India’s first goal. Rehman Abdul (13’) found the back of the nets late in the first half and India went into halftime trailing by 1-4.
Needing to cover the deficit, India started on a strong foot in the second half. But Pakistan continued to threaten from the left forcing India goalkeeper Suraj Karkera to remain on his toes. After receiving a long pass, Maninder Singh (17’) struck a reverse hit to score the second goal for India. Minutes later, Mohammad Raheel (21’) combined with Pawan Rajbhar deep in Pakistan’s half and scored the third goal for India, further putting pressure on the opposition. Just when it looked like India might cover the deficit, Pakistan captain Abdul Rana (26’) struck a reverse hit to extend his side’s lead with just minutes left on the clock. India earned a late challenge in the match and Maninder Singh (29’) made no mistake and converted it with ease. But Pakistan played out the final minute keeping possession and managed to register a close win.
Earlier, in the day, India picked up a 12-2 win over Oman.
India began the game against Oman on front foot, with Mohammed Raheel (2’), who was named as the Player of the Match against Bangladesh, showcasing his attacking prowess straightaway. Early goals from him and Jugraj Singh (3’) set up the momentum in India’s favour. Mohammed Raheel (9’), and Pawan Rajbhar (9’, 10’) added three more goals to expose Oman’s defensive unit and took India to a solid 5-0 lead at halftime.
The second half started with Oman’s counter-attack and Fahad Al Lawati (16’) pulled one a back for Oman. But Maninder Singh (16’) scored instantly to regain India’s five-goal lead. In urgent need of goals, Rashad Al Fazari (18’) made the most of another counter-attack from Oman and scored their second goal. But three minutes later, Pawan Rajbhar (21’) put the ball back into the nets once again to extend India’s lead to 7-2. Maninder Singh (23’, 26’) completed his hat-trick with two quick goals, after which, Jugraj Singh (28’), Sukhvinder (29’), and Mohammed Raheel (30’) scored three late goals to help India attain a comfortable 12-2 win.
India will next face off against Malaysia and Japan on Thursday.
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