India came back from the dead to author a memorable 7-4 win against Pakistan in the 25th Champions Trophy hockey tournament at the Wagener Stadium today. In a fascinating contest, the Indians played the game of their lives to pump home five goals in the last 19 minutes for a win that would not be forgotten in a hurry. Jugraj Singh, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh and Gagan Ajit Singh struck for India, while Pakistan's goals came from Rehan Butt, Nadeem Ahmed, Mudassar Ali and Sohail Abbas. It was a bruising victory for the Indians as several players suffered injuries, notably Ignace Tirkey who was stretched off the ground. More significantly, it was the first time ever that India scored seven goals against Pakistan. Scintillating match
There was plenty of action as both teams worked hard to seize the initiative. The Pakistanis, boasting of a gifted forwardline, were more on the attack early on and, in fact, forced a penalty corner in the very first minute. But once the teams settled down, it was Pakistan who had more of the ball while the Indians squeezed in a few on their own. The Indian midfield yet again was not seen in good light as it repeatedly fumbled to allow the Pakistanis to launch waves of attacks. Indian goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan brought off a couple of good saves before Butt deflected a pass from Sohail Abbas from a penalty corner to put Pakistan ahead. Then followed a spell of Pakistan ascendancy. Bimal Lakra bungled in the midfield as he cleared the ball straight to Nadeem who, in a stunning burst of acceleration, cut past the Indian defenders and found the roof of the goal with a reverse hit. Soon after, the Indians forced a penalty corner, which Jugraj converted to put his team back in the game. However, the Pakistanis regained the initiative as Mudassar deflected a long hit from Salim Khalid following a long corner. A minute from half-time, the Indians received a boost when Jugraj converted yet another penalty corner as the teams took the breather with Pakistan leading 3-2. Memorable win
On resumption, it was Pakistan who went on the attack and within minutes struck a fourth time, when Sohail finally came good with a penalty corner. India retaliated in style by forcing a penalty corner. Amidst excitement, Pakistani goalkeeper, Ahmed Alam, who had previously received a green card for running out, received another warning. Alam blocked Jugraj's drag flick and suddenly, umpire Rob ten Cate of the Netherlands ordered the penalty corner to be retaken. This time, Alam rushed out to block Jugraj who recovered to flick the ball to Dhillon who in turn passed to Thakur to score. The Indian team launched yet another attack from the right. Thakur advancing deep into the Pakistani territory, unleashed a terrific centre which found an unmarked Prabhjot Singh who swiftly slapped the ball home for the equaliser (4-4). Ten minutes from close, Prabhjot put through Gagan on the left and the tall centre-forward let fly a reverse hit to put India in the lead (5-4). Hardly had the cheers died down when Pillay flicked to Gagan on the right. Gagan, in a magical run, sliced through and unleashed yet another reverse hit to the boards (6-4). The Pakistanis were totally demoralised by the stunning Indian recovery and Thakur scored his second goal of the match when he capped a Pillay-Prabhjot move (7-4). In the dying minutes, the rival players came to blows following an infringement near the Pakistani circle. After a brief stoppage when the umpires spoke to the rival captains, the match resumed. But Gagan blotted his performance by taking a yellow card for a body charge. The Indians held on thereafter to chalk up their second win in five matches, to set off frenzied celebrations that is bound to go on through the night. Pakistan, thus slid to their first defeat in five matches.
(With PTI inputs)