India level series against Pak

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India beat Pakistan 4-1 in the second hockey Test to square the four-match series 1-1 today.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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India beat Pakistan 4-1 in the second hockey Test to square the four-match series 1-1 today. Pakistan had led the series 1-0, after wining the first test in Karachi on Friday. The visitors had not beaten Pakistan in a competitive hockey game since the final of the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad last year. India, who are missing key players like Dhanraj Pillay, Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur and Baljit Singh Dhillion, were playing their first Hockey series across the border since 1999. Under pressure India seemed under a lot of pressure when the match started at the Gen Musa Stadium, hosting a major tie after a long time, but they got into a rhythm as the match progressed. But more than India's brilliance, it was the waywardness of the Pakistanis which led to their shock defeat. India got themselves into a position of strength in the first half itself when Sandeep Singh scored two goals in a span of three minutes, both coming from penalty corners, before Ignace Tirkey hammered home for a 3-0 lead. Sandeep scores Sandeep, who had a tremendous outing in the junior Asia Cup where he was the tournament top scorer, brought an end to a lean patch at the highest level with the twin strikes, outwitting Pakistani goalkeeper Salman Akbar on both the occasions. The youngster from Haryana, expected to fill in the shoes of expert drag flicker Jugraj Singh, scored from the first two penalty corners the side got in the first 17 minutes. Akbar, who was expecting high flicks from Sandeep on both the occasions, was foxed when the Indian beat him with cleverly hit carpet shots, much to the delight of the visitors. Hopes crash Pakistan tried hard to stage a comeback briefly when they made some dangerous moves from both the wings and in the process earned a couple of penalty corners in the 23rd and 30th minute. But the hosts' hopes of reducing the margin came crashing down after goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza charged out to effect fine saves on both the occasions – first from a variation and second from a powerful drag-flick from Sohail Abbas, the world's second highest goal scorer behind Holland's Paul Litjens. The Indians made the life of Pakistanis difficult further when Ignace scored in the 33rd minute from a fine counter move. Vivek Gupta's hit into the Pakistan circle was well stopped by Arjun Halappa, whose reverse pass was used to the maximum effect by Igance, who unleashed a rasping hit to beat Akbar all ends up. Indians hold firm The proceedings were marked by some end to end hockey in the second half as Pakistan pressed hard to make inroads into the Indian defence but the young side held firm. The visitors suffered a jolt when key midfielder Viren Rasquinha was temporarily suspended for an infringement in the 55th minute. However, Pakistan failed to take advantage of the 10-men India even though they managed to win two penalty corners with Dilwar Hussain being unable to stop Rehan Butt's pushes from the setpieces. Young forward Khandekar, who had an outstanding game today, deservedly hit the last nail in Pakistan's coffin with a goal in the 60th minute to seal the fate of the match. (With PTI inputs)

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