2014 Asian games finalists India and Pakistan faced each other in the most awaited match of the Fintro Hockey World League on Sunday. The KHC Dragons stadium in Antwerp, Belgium saw people turn up in huge numbers to support their home nation. In an exhilarating encounter that grew a bit physical, neither of the teams emerged victorious as the game ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw. Indian forward Ramandeep Singh starred for the Indian team as he scored two match-defining goals. For Pakistan, it was skipper Muhammad Imran who scored twice- from a penalty stroke and a penalty corner.
First half: Ramandeep Singh scores early goal, Muhammad Imran equalizes in 2nd quarter
The passion and the intensity was clearly visible in the Indian and Pakistani players as the game kicked off. The first quarter saw plenty of chances created by the men in blue but the Pakistani defenders were up to the task with impeccable defending. The opening goal of the match came in the 13th minute when Ramandeep Singh made a brilliant diving effort to deflect Satbir Singh’s incoming hit into the goal.
Muhammad Imran equalizes through penalty stroke
The second quarter saw Pakistan come out as a stronger unit and soon enough the men in green made inroads inside the Indian half. The Indian defense unit made unnecessary errors to put themselves in danger. The men in blue were hit the hardest when they conceded two consecutive penalty corners and committed a foul during the third one as well, thus handing a penalty stroke. Muhammad Imran made no mistake as he flicked the ball to the right corner of the goal from the set piece to find the equalizer for Pakistan. In the 30th minute, Satbir Singh was given a yellow card for a deliberate challenge and India had to start the third quarter with only ten men.
Second half: Imran strikes again, Ramandeep saves India from defeat
Despite being reduced to ten men, the Indians did not shy away from attacking and continued to create chances through Lalitkumar Upadhyay, Ramandeep Singh and Devindar Walmiki. With just 7 minutes down in the 3rd quarter, Pakistan were awarded another penalty corner and it was the skipper once again who put Pakistan in the lead. Imran found the back of the net with a brilliantly executed drag-flick.
Just two minutes later, India were on the counter and skipper Sardara Singh made a clever pass for Devindar Walmiki on the edge of the circle. The youngster then made a lunging run through the Pakistani defenders and guided the ball towards an unmarked Ramandeep Singh, who calmly scooped the ball past Imran Butt, the goalkeeper. The fourth quarter yielded no goals and the game ended in a draw. The draw will hurt Pakistan as it will dent their chances of qualification for the HWL knockout stage and potential qualification for the Olympic Games.
India 2 (Ramandeep Singh 13′, 39′) drew with Pakistan 2 (Muhammad Imran 23′, 37′)