Pakistan holds India to 1-1 draw in Junior Asia Cup
SALALAH: Pakistan held India to a 1-1 draw and continued their unbeaten streak in the Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 hockey tournament in Salalah, Oman on Saturday.
Sharda Nand Tiwari scored the opener for India in the 24th minute before Pakistan’s Basharat Ali equalized in the 44th. Both India and Pakistan have accumulated seven points each from their respective three-game in Pool A but the latter leads the tally with a better goal difference. Japan, who beat Chinese Taipei 10-1 earlier on Saturday, are third with six points from three outings. Playing at the Salalah Sports Complex, the Pakistan team defended the Indian attack quite brilliantly in the first quarter which ended without a goal despite men in blue enjoying the bulk of possession. India took the lead via a penalty corner with Sharad Nand Tiwari flicking the ball in the net to help his team go 1-0 before halftime.
Pakistan, however, unleashed a counterattack in the third quarter and put the Indian defence under pressure. India won a couple of penalty corners but failed to score. Pakistan, on the other hand, equalized through Ali Basharat, who netted from a close distance to make it 1-1. The final quarter also witnessed a see-saw contest with both teams battling for a winning goal but the deadlock persisted till the final whistle. Pakistan have a fair chance to qualify for the event’s semifinal and also earn a spot in FIH Junior Hockey World Cup 2023 when they face Japan on May 29. The Men in Green only require to avoid a defeat in their last group encounter.
Malaysia, as hosts, have already qualified for the World Cup. Since they have also qualified for the semi-finals of the Junior Asia Cup, this means that all the other three teams making it to the last four will gain entry into the World Cup as well.
Published in The Daily National Courier, May, 29 2023