Defending champions India put behind the disappointment of missing out on the final to beat Pakistan 2-1 and clinch the men’s hockey bronze at the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta on Saturday.
The Indians were nowhere near her fluent best but found the net through Akashdeep Singh (3rd minute) and Harmanpreet Singh (50th minute) to ensure that they at least finished on the podium after Malaysia surprised them in the semi-final in a penalty shootout. Pakistan pulled one back in the 52nd minute through Mohammad Atiq but could not find the equaliser.
With a medal at stake, India knew that they needed to start strong against arch-rivals Pakistan and it looked like Sreejesh and company were determined to prove a point after the semi-final reversal. And Akashdeep drew first blood when he slapped in goal following a cross from Lalit Upadhyay.
The Indians were then guilty of missing a couple of chances, the best coming SV Sunil’s way in the 27th minute when he received a long ball from the the defence which he hit wide when he had only the Paksitan custodian to beat with no defender around him.
In between, Pakistan came close to finding an equaliser when Atiq’s reverse hit rebounded off the upright and they ended up wasting their video referral.
Pakistan’s best chances of scoring a goal then came through the four penalty corners they earned through the first three quarters but the Indian defence stood tall.
Harmanpreet then scored the second with India’s first penalty corner of the match five minutes in the fourth quarter.
The Indian defence was soon caught napping as Paksitan build a quick move from the right with Mahamood Abu Bakar cutting inside and setting up Atiq to score.
India earned another penalty corner a minute later but Rupinder Pal Singh failed to beat the Pakistan defender on the line but the team managed to hold on for the last seven minutes to ensure that the team does not return empty handed from Jakarta.