India kept coming back from a goal deficit but it was Pakistan that had the final laugh in an absorbing Champions Trophy Semi-Final played in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa. In a thrilling encounter, spectators were treated to a cliffhanger as both teams fought brave.
But it was Pakistan that came through by beating India 4-3 and they have now set up a final encounter with Germany. India will be playing Australia for the 3rd place match on Sunday.
India Make A Nervy Start
In whichever sport these two traditional rivals clash, emotions are on their apex. Sometimes, control on these emotions can determine the course of the matcg. India looked a little anxious in the first quarter of the match as their passing was wayward on many occasions. Pakistan intercepted the Indian player’s passes frequently and were able to build swift counter-attacks.
Pakistan almost got on the score board due to an Indian mistake. Waqas intercepted a blind pass made by an Indian defender right inside the Indian circle. In a one-on-one situation, Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh stepped up and narrowed the angle before making a perfectly timed dive to block the shot out for a long corner.
India composed themselves and their build up improved significantly after surviving that scare. The team began to keep the ball in possession for longer. After a few quick build-up moves from the Indian team, they were finally awarded with a Penalty Corner in the 11th minute of the first quarter when Pakistani Goalkeeper Imran Butt inadvertently dived on the ball to save it from going in the goal. Butt did not seem aware of the whereabouts of the ball.
Gurjinder Strikes For India
Butt was caught even more unaware from the resulting Penalty Corner. Gurjinder slapped the ball hard after receiving it from the corner. It went right in the bottom left. Butt couldn’t move an inch.
Pakistan used their Video Appeal claiming that Sunil obstructed the goalkeeper. The TV Umpire saw nothing wrong with Sunil’s movement and the goal stood.
Gurjinder Picks Yellow Card
Nerves got the better of the India’s right-half Gurbaj just a minute later. He committed a stick infringement and then fell on a Pakistani forward. A yellow card was shown to him and India were reduced to 10 men for the next 10 minutes of the game.
Pakistan won themselves a chance to equalize in the last minute of the first quarter through a penalty corner. The resultant Penalty Corner was cleverly taken and a feint by the drag flicker caught the defense off guard. However the final shot lacked accuracy and the first quarter ended at 1-0 in India’s favour.
India were still down to 10-men at the beginning of the second quarter through Gurbaj’s suspension. Pakistan did not let this opportunity pass and began the second quarter where they ended the first. Right in the first minute, Pakistan forced Sreejesh to make a brilliant save. However, in the very next minute, Pakistan got an equaliser through Muhammad Arslan Qadir.
Pakistan attacked relentlessly for most of the second quarter with India trying hard to find some room for attack too. An intercept by India put Sunil in a one-on-one situation with the goal-keeper but he was shouldered down by a Pakistani defender. The resulting Penalty Corner was hit straight at the keeper and posed no real threat.
The only real attempt from India came late towards the end of the second quarter. Sunil accelerated right down the center and throught the heart of the Pakistani defense. The ball was passed on to Nikkin whose shot from a very tight angle was off-target.
Both Teams Score In Third Qaurter
The third quarter saw both of the teams stepping on the accelerator and Paksitan got a goal early. Waqas put his team in the lead with a cross-field goal. The Indians protested and the referee was forced to go for a Video Referral but the goal stood in the end.
Manpreet conducted India’s attack towards the end of the quarter. Pakistan were reduced down to just 9 men after a Yellow Card and a Green Card issued to their players in quick succession. India made full advantage of the number advantage and a good move down the right flank led to an equalizer. Akashdeep put in a well controlled pass into the Pakistan D and Dharamvir Singh rounded off the keeper then scored a goal through a stinging reverse hit. It was 2-2 and anybody’s game
Pakistan Get Winning Goal In Nail-Biting Fourth
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the legs were getting tired but the desire to win was only getting stronger. Pakistan got another penalty corner and this time they did not miss. Once more Pakistan had the lead, 3 goals to two.
India had some action on the other hand but Nikkin’s first touch in front of the goal with only the goal keeper to beat was not good. He was to make amends soon.
Only two minutes later Nikkin produced a moment of brilliance and got his stick in the right position to deflect the ball into the goal. Once more, India had equalized. The relief on Nikkin’s face seemed to suggest the pressure the team would have been under.
Pakistan prove to be the more determined team in the end. With just a minute and half remaining in the match, Qadir got an opening due to some lethargic defending. Qadir did not miss and scored a beautiful back-hand finish. Sreejesh moved up to cut the angle but this time there was enough space to his right and Pakistan led by 4 goals to three with 93 seconds left on the clock.
India pushed desperately in the final minute and seemed to have won a penalty corner. The spectators were on the edge of their seats but the decision was overturned after a video referral showed that contact was inches outside the box.
Pakistan emerged victorious with a 4-3 scoreline and India’s dream of a Champions Trophy gold was broken once again. India now face off against Australia for a Bronze Medal.
Courageous India could not stop fairy tale run for Pakistan
So a courageous display by India . They fought all the way but it was to be Pakistan’s day. As for Pakistan they have had a fairy tale run in this tournament. For a team that has not been able to take part in International events due to a financial crisis and even had to depend on personal sponsors to make the trip, the tournament started with three defeats on the run including an 8-2 loss to England. It is indeed creditable for Pakistan to have come back and made it to the finals.