India registered their second win of the Asian Champions Trophy, getting the better of arch-rivals Pakistani in a round-robin fixture with a 3-1 win in Muscat on Saturday.
Harendra Singh’s side were in a spot of bother after Pakistan took an early lead and were clearly the better side in the first quarter. Mohammad Irfan jr, from a penalty corner, put the ball beyond Sreejesh — who was making his 200th International appearance — to hand Pakistan the lead after the Indian goalkeeper had parried the initial effort.
For much of the first half, India’s attacks lacked cohesion and cutting edge, seldom troubling goalkeeper Imran Butt. However, the momentum of the game shifted through an extraordinary individual effort from skipper Manpreet Singh who surged past three Pakistan defenders and rifled a shot to the bottom corner to level scores heading into half-time.
India had found their attacking rhythm after the break. Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh and vice-captain Chinglensana Singh were a constant menace in the Pakistan half.
Mandeep Singh put India in the lead in the third quarter with an outrageous piece of skill. With his back facing goal, the Indian forward slipped the ball between his legs to catch the Pakistani defence off guard. The effort left Butt wrong-footed at goal and the ball landed in the back of the net.
India did not look back and created a wave of attacks till the end of the contest. Mohammad Rizwan and Co were starved off the ball for long spells as fifth-ranked team’s pressing saw them win the midfield battle comfortably. Mandeep nearly added a second after combining well with Akashdeep – who was a livewire throughout the contest – on the left. On this occasion, Mandeep could only find the side-netting.
India’s hero from their 11-0 rout against Oman, Dilpreet Singh, got on the scoresheet in the third quarter to add gloss on the scoreline. Akashdeep’s defence-splitting pass found Lalit Upadhyay on the right. The latter drilled the ball towards goal and Butt could only palm the ball straight to the waiting stick of Dilpreet, who tucked it away to give India a two-goal cushion.
India’s dominance in the final quarter didn’t result in goals but gave Manpreet the opportunity to get a second. Jarmanpreet Singh on the right made a powerful run and his cut-back was delightful. Manpreet, though, missed his shot.
After going behind early, India found their resilience as they prepare themselves for bigger challenges. The Men in Blue face Japan on Sunday.