|February 28th, 2010|
|03||Pool B||8:30pm||PAK - IND||1 - 4 (0 - 2)||Final|
The first day of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 ended with the much anticipated match between Pakistan and host India, always a treat for hockey lovers. This match was the fifth World Cup encounter between the two countries, the most famous being the 1975 Final when India beat Pakistan (2-1). Ironically for these two hockey giants, the last time they met in a World Cup was 24 years ago for the 11th-12th classification match in 1986 (Pakistan won 3-2).
The opening day clash had the two countries buzzing for days, and legendary Indian player Dhanraj Pillai summed up the mood in his daily column in the Hindustan Times: “Good luck to Team India from one billion Indians”!
The game started after a thundering rendition of the Indian National Anthem by the crowd. The two teams immediately proceeded to offer a superb display of “Asian hockey” with swift attacks and immediate counter-attacks. The players were nevertheless obviously nervous, committing some unforced errors and losing balls in unnecessary dribbles. The first real chance was for Tushar KHANDKER, inheriting the ball at the tail end of a fast Indian movement that swept the whole field, but his instant shot was well paraded by Salman AKBAR in the Pakistani goal.
India had most of the possession, led by a very active Prabhjot SINGH, but the Green Shirts were absorbing well the pressure, successfully defending the first penalty-corner of the match after twenty minutes of play. They were not as successful on the second penalty-corner, forced in the 27th minute after yet another run by Prabhjot SINGH; Shivendra SINGH was on hand to collect the rebound and slot it in goal, sending the crowd in wild ecstatic chants.
Pakistan used the video-umpiring referral successfully to be awarded a penalty-corner, but Sohail ABBAS crashed his powerful drag-flick on the cross-bar. India missed a golden opportunity at the other end, the ball rolling in front of the empty net without anybody managing to put a stick on it, but they earned another penalty-corner with no time on the clock, and Sandeep SINGH confirmed his good form to increase the lead at halftime to 2-0.
The match resumed on the same high tempo after the break, and Prabhjot SINGH was immediately rewarded of his efforts with the third goal, poaching from close range a ball that had eluded the Pakistani defenders. Chance was definitely not on Pakistan’s side, Sohail ABBAS driving another missile on the crossbar before failing in his third attempt, and they could not control the forth one. Sandeep SINGH increased India’s lead to 4 goals before Sohail ABBAS finally opened up his tally.
It was nevertheless too little too late, and, with the crowd dancing happily in the stands, India ran away with the win over their arch-rivals, starting their World Cup campaign on a high note and giving hope to a whole country.
Match Facts (Pakistan vs. India):
> India won 4-1 to record their biggest win over Pakistan in World Cup competition.
> This marked India’s first World Cup win over Pakistan in 35 year, since beating them 2-1 in the 1975 final.
> The last time India scored 4 goals in a World Cup match was in 2002, when they beat Cuba 4-0 and Poland 4-1.
> Sohail Abbas (PAK) scored once to equal Floris Jan Bovelander (NED) on 17 World Cup goals. Only three players have scored more World Cup goals: Paul Litjens (NED, 26), Ties Kruize (NED, 21) and Wolfgang Strödter (GER, 18).
> Sandeep Singh scored twice on his World Cup debut for India. He joins James Tindall (ENG) and Jamie Dwyer (AUS) at the top of the goal scorer table after matchday 1.
> India lead Pool B after matchday 1 at the 2010 World Cup, leading ESP on goal difference.