Jakarta: Pakistan captain Mohammad Rizwan pleaded with the Pakistan Hockey Federation not to come hard on his team following their 1-2 loss to India in the bronze medal match of the 18th Asian Games on Saturday.
Japan later rallied to beat Malaysia in a thrilling shoot-out 4-2 to win the gold. Both teams were tied 6-6 at the end of the regulation time.
“They should not be doing any chopping and changing on the basis of this result. It is my humble request to the federation,” said a dejected looking captain, adding that his team played badly only in the semi-finals and whatever performance everyone has seen can be credited to the new coach Roelant Oltmans.
“We all want Oltmans to stay so that we can have a strong team for the World Cup. We will be a strong team by the World Cup if we have the same coaching team.
Akashdeep Singh put India in the lead as early as in the third minute. Akashdeep, after receiving the ball from just outside 23 yards, scooped it into the top right corner past a rooted Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt.
Chinglensana Singh and Mandeep Singh had chances to widen the lead but a resilient Pakistan defence thwarted their efforts.
Trailing by a goal, Pakistan pressed hard for the equaliser in the second quarter. Forwards Ajaz Ahmad, Muhammad Dilber and Abu Mahmoud all created chances but failed to get the break through. The first penalty corner for Pakistan came in the 21st minute but was neutralised by India. They were awarded two more penalty corners in the same minute but again they failed to make it count.
Indian strikers SV Sunil and Akashdeep had few more scoring opportunities but failed to double the lead. Pakistan upped their tempo further in the third quarter but attempts from Ahmad and the experienced Mohammad Irfan failed to bear fruit.
India’s first penalty corner came in the 50th minute, thanks to fine stickwork by Mandeep Singh and the young Harmanpreet Singh made it count with a clinical strike. The 2-0 lead didn’t last long, however, with Mohammad Atiq firing a brilliant field goal catching the India defense napping on a counter. Rupinder Pal Singh then missed the target off a penalty corner and Pakistan were still in with a chance to draw level. They mounted tremendous pressure with a series of raids but Indian defence stood tall to defend till the final hooter.
“This wasn’t the medal for which we came here. But something is better than nothing and we are happy that we are not going back empty-handed. We fought each and every moment of the game for this,” said coach Harendra Singh. “Playing against Pakistan has always been motivational and I am happy that we could get our record straight against them,” he added.
Indian women’s squash team got a second successive silver medal as they lost to Hong Kong 0-2 in the final. The Indian women’s team of Joshana Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal, Sunayna Kuruvilla and Tanvi Khanna, lost their first two singles matches.
Sunayna lost 1-3 (8-11, 6-11, 12-10, 3-11) to Ho Tze-Lok as Hong Kong led 1-0 in the final. Sunayna had defeated Tze-Lok during a Pool B clash but in the final, the 19-year-old was unable to deliver under pressure. Sunayna was fielded ahead of experienced Dipika due to the latter’s physical toll during Friday’s win over Malaysia in the semi-finals.