Incheon: India wasted chances galore in their 1-2 defeat against arch-rivals and defending champions Pakistan in a keenly-contested Pool B match of the men's hockey competition at the 17th Asian Games, here today.
Sardar Singh. Pic/ AFP
It was touted as the match to watch out for in the competition and as per expectations it turned out to be an exhilarating contest between the sub-continental rivals. It was a duel of technical superiority as both the teams showed great skills on the turf while playing fast-paced hockey.
There was hardly anything to choose between the two sides as the match witnessed end-to-end hockey. Despite enjoying the better share of possession, the Sardar Singh-led side finished second best on the day, courtesy a string of missed chances from the forwards, especially Ramandeep Singh and the backline's perennial problem of buckling down under pressure.
The win today virtually assured Pakistan's top position in Pool B, while India made life difficult for themselves and at best now can only finish second in the pool and face mighty South Korea in the semi-final. But for that to happen India will have to overcome lower-ranked but dangerous China in their last pool match on Saturday.
With injured Rupinderpal Singh ruled out of the match, the onus was on V R Raghunath to deliver with penalty corners but the burly drag-flick continued to misfire in the tournament as he wasted two set pieces. Ramandeep's trapping inside the Pakistan circle was horrendous as he wasted as many as three good chances while his striking partner Akashdeep Singh shot straight to goalkeeper Imran Butt from close range in the second quarter.