The Indian junior men’s hockey team defeated Pakistan 3-3 (6-5 in the penalty shootout) in a hard-fought match on Saturday to win bronze medal at the 11th Sultan of Johar Cup.
The action-packed encounter saw Arun Sahani (11’), Poovanna CB (42’), and captain Uttam Singh (52’) score for India while Sufyan Khan (33’), Abdul Qayyum (50’), and captain Shahid Hannan (57’) scored for Pakistan to end regulation time at 3-3.
The penalty shootouts went all the way to sudden death as India’s goalkeeper Mohith HS denied Hannan to secure a nervy 6-5 shootout win.
The game started with both teams cautiously probing for chances. Pakistan’s goalkeeper Ali Raza was called into action halfway through the first quarter, as Gurjot Singh stayed alert in the circle and unleashed a reverse shot that sailed just wide of the post. As India looked to press for the opening goal it was Sahani who stepped up to deflect Rohit’s searching pass into goal.
Pakistan were under pressure towards the end of the quarter with India creating a couple of chances and forcing Ali Raza to save.
Pakistan attempted to retain possession in India’s half in search of an equaliser in the second quarter, earning two penalty corners but failed to capitalise on either of them. Meanwhile, India kept the Pakistan defence on their toes with the occasional counterattack. However, neither team managed to change the scoreline in their favour heading into the second half.
Pakistan’s hard work bore fruit in the second half with Sufyan Khan slotting the ball into Mohith goal from a penalty corner. A period of Pakistani dominance followed but the Indian defence remained resilient. With three minutes left in the quarter, Poovanna CB flicked the ball into goal from a missed penalty corner to restore India’s lead.
In the last quarter, Pakistan seemed determined to equalize again, pinning India back in their own circle. As the pressure continued to mount it was Qayyum who breached India’s goal to bring the teams back on level terms.
But India flipped the switch, taking the game to Pakistan and it wasn’t too long before captain Singh scored from a chaotic penalty corner, to make it 3-2. Pakistan threw in the kitchen sink in their search for an equaliser, creating numerous penalty corners and it was Pakistani captain Hannan who made 3-3 with his goal at the end of the regulation time, taking the game to penalty shootouts.
Pakistan’s Arshad Liaqat, Hannan, Abdul Rehman, and Ahtisham Aslam found the back of the net in the penalty shootout while Vishnukant Singh, Rajinder Singh, Angad Bir Singh, and Uttam Singh answered back with goals of their own to take it sudden death.
Vishnukant Singh and Liaqat converted their respective chances in sudden death. Angad Bir Singh put India ahead before Mohith shadowed Hannan perfectly to tackle him and sealed a thrilling win for India.