The Indian hockey team continued its domination of arch-foes Pakistan, handing them a 6-1 thrashing in a 5th-8th place classification match of the Hero Hockey World League Semifinals on Saturday.
Goals by Ramandeep Singh (8’, 28’), Talwinder Singh (25’), Mandeep Singh (27’, 59’), and Harmanpreet Singh (36’) helped India decimate Pakistan and set up a clash with Canada in the 5th-6th pace playoff.
The result dented Pakistan’s hopes of booking a berth to participate at the Hockey World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar next year. India displayed good attack right from the start with their first real shot on goal coming as early as the opening minute when Ramandeep Singh set up one for an unmarked Akashdeep Singh in the circle.
But Akashdeep could not make a powerful connection to put the ball past Pakistan goalkeeper Amjad Ali. Mandeep, meanwhile, helped India win their first Penalty Corner in the sixth minute but Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was defended well by Pakistan.
Soon after, India were seen putting pressure on Pakistan, interrupting their counter-attack cornering Pakistan player with a three-man defence. The strategy worked, with Pakistan losing the possession. Satbir Singh, playing his 50th international match, was quick to spot Ramandeep in the circle who seized the opportunity for India to take a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute.
India took their lead to a convincing 4-0 in the second quarter. First it was Pardeep Mor who did well with a fierce pass to Talwinder Singh who simply had to angle his stick to beautifully deflect the ball into the post in the 25th minute.
Brilliantly assisted by SV Sunil, Akashdeep, who had missed a golden opportunity early on, was exceptional with his dribble in the baseline to get past the defender to nick the ball towards the net.
It was Mandeep Singh who got the touch on the ball before it beat the keeper to take India’s lead to a healthy 3-0 in the 27th minute. India’s fourth goal came in the 28th minute when Sunil assisted Ramandeep from the far post. It was a diving effort by Ramandeep that ensured he scored his second goal of the match.
Pressure mounted on Pakistan when India won their second PC in the 36th minute. Harmanpreet Singh made use of the opportunity as he came up with an improvised drag-flick, kept the ball low to beat the Pakistani keeper and take India’s lead to a formidable 5-0.
Pakistan finally found a breakthrough in the 41st minute when Ajaz Ahmad took advantage of a defensive error on India’s part to put the ball past keeper Vikas Dahiya.
The final quarter saw Pakistan make some desperate attempts on goal but India did well to contain their opponents with good defence. With less than six minutes for the final hooter, Talwinder Singh swiftly dribbling into the striking circle did well to find his man Ramandeep on the far post who made a rapid attempt on goal.
But Pakistani defender Rizwan Jr. Muhammad was impeccable in his effort to deny Ramandeep his third goal of the match. Mandeep Singh managed to take India’s lead to 6-1 in the 59th minute scoring the goal off a rebound.
India won a PC in the dying seconds of the match when Pakistan defender fouled in the circle through a stick tackle but Harmanpreet’s effort was defended well and India walked away with a comfortable 6-1 win.