Perfect Diwali gift! After cricket, it's hockey
Diwali gifts pour in for sports lovers as India's dribblers outwit Pakistan in Asian Champions Trophy final a day after Dhoni’s men demolish NZ for ODI series win
India players celebrate after winning the Asian Champions Trophy at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan, Malaysia yesterday
Kuantan (Malaysia): India's hockey team gifted the country on Diwali its second Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament title after defeating arch foes Pakistan 3-2 in the final at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here yesterday."
India's two second-half goals from Rupinder Pal Singh (18th minute) and Affan Yousuf (23rd) were cancelled out by Aleem Bilal (26th) and Ali Shan (38th) but Nikkin Thimmaiah (51st) scored the winner for the reigning Asian Games champions.
Amid the diplomatic feud between the two countries who are erstwhile hockey masters, the result of the match bore much more significance than the title. And both the teams lived up to the expectations of the highly-anticipated clash. However, it was India who started the match brightly as Pakistan looked defensive at the beginning.
Dominating the possession, Indian earn a penalty corner when Birendra Lakra played to the foot of a defender in the seventh minute. But Jasjit Singh Kular's flick went wide of the left post.
However, Pakistan didn't take long to get into groove and two aerial balls — one to the top of the circle and another to the left of the circle — rattled the Indian defence. But Akash Chikte, standing in for injured premier goalkeeper and captain PR Sreejesh, was up to the challenge. India's chief coach Roelant Oltmans today heaped praise on his boys.
"For the Indian players, there was no option other than winning the title here. We went in as the favorites and were the target of other teams, who faced no such pressure," said Oltmans. "I'm really proud that the team showed its mental strength in the last quarter to clinch victory after we conceded two goals and allowed the opposition to come back into the contest."
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