HYDERABAD (India), Oct 31: India survived a torrid second half onslaught to beat Pakistan 3-1 and win hockey gold medal at the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad on Friday.
Earlier, Asian Games champion South Korea defeated Malaysia 2-1 to claim the bronze medal.
Rasoli Muhamad’s flash strike in open play gave Malaysia the lead in the 42nd minute, but Sydney Olympic silver medalist South Korea rallied with a field goal from Hyo Sik-yoo (45th minute) and a penalty-corner strike by Kyung Seok-kim (52nd).
After Arjun Halappa and Len Aiyappa scored in the first session to enable the hosts go into the breather 2-1 up, Gagan Ajit Singh capitalized on a defensive lapse in 61st minute, much against the run of play, to put the issue beyond doubt.
Ghazanfar Ali accounted for Pakistan’s goal.
In a fast-paced encounter today, it was India who forged ahead in the ninth minute through a penalty stroke by Arjun Halappa. The stroke was awarded after Deepak Thakur was fouled as he was poised to score of a cross from Halappa on the left.
But Pakistan replied within eight minutes after sustained aggression on the Indian defence. Following their second penalty corner, Ghazanfar Ali flicked past goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan.
Both teams had an equal share of possession thereafter but it was the Indians who looked more threatening.
Four minutes into stoppage time, India forced their third penalty corner. India skipper Dilip Tirkey did well to deceive the onrushing Pakistan defenders as he squared the ball to an unmarked Len Aiyappa, who flicked hard and true to put India ahead for the second time in the match.
India’s 3-1 victory was its fifth in eight matches against Pakistan this year.
India perhaps also set record of winning three matches on the trot against Pakistan—following its 4-2 triumph against the arch-rivals in the Asia Cup final at Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on Sept 28 and victory by a similar margin in the group match of Afro-Asian Games earlier this week.
Pakistan can savour two victories against the Indians this year — a 4-3 win in the bronze medal match of the silver jubilee Champions Trophy at Amstelveen (Holland) in August and a 4-2 defeat of the same rivals in the Pool match of Asia Cup at Kuala Lumpur last month.
Besides three victories in succession todate, India also boast of a 7-4 thrashing of Pakistan in league match of the 25th Champions Trophy at Amstelveen plus a 4-3 advantage over Pakistan in a four-nations hockey tournament at Perth (Australia) this year.
The two team drew their clash in Sydney’s second leg of the four-nations tournament in Australia.
In fact, Pakistan have lost seven times, won thrice and drew once in the 11 matches played so far against India, beginning from the 24th Champions Trophy at Cologne (Germany) last year.
Pakistan had lost to India in the league match of the Cologne Champions Trophy but came from 1-3 down to beat India 4-3 in the bronze medal match in the same competition.—PPI/APP