Rawalpindi, Feb 26 (UNI) Trailing 0-3 at one stage, a rejuvenated India staged a remarkable rally as they fought back brilliantly in a space of eight minutes in the second half to hold Pakistan to a 3-3 draw and clinch the Warid Cup at the Army Hockey stadium here today.
For Pakistan, Tariq Aziz drew the first blood, Mohd Saqlain scored the second goal and Shabbir made it 3-0. Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh reduced the margin for India, then Tejbir reduced the gap further and Vikram Pillay drew the parity.
With this draw, India won the Pakistan leg of the six-match hockey series, 1-0. having earlier played a 1-1 draw at Lahore and then beat Pakistan 2-1 at Faisalabad.
Pakistan, however, were the overall winners of the series winning 3-1, all their wins coming in India.
India, who had come to Pakistan after having lost all the matches at home and were written off by the critics before this leg started, faught back as the youngsters gave a very determined and heart warming performance which will definately act as a morale booster for them just before the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Pakistan were without their star strikers Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi and it seemed India would take advantage of the hosts' weakened forward line. But defence lapses from India ensured that Pakistan were 2-0 up at the break.
Whenever, India seemed to be getting their rhythm in the match, a defensive lapse would erode confidence. Pakistan took the lead in the third minute when a weak Dilawar shot from outside the circle wasn't trapped cleanly by Harpal Singh. The rebound was picked up by Tariq Aziz who shot in without a delay (1-0).
India was pegged on the back foot as Pakistan skipper Mohammed Saqlain played his heart out. Distributing through balls and also making inroads past the Indian midfield, Saqlain ensured that Pakistan didn't miss the injured Rehan and Shakeel.
In the 27th minute, yet another defensive error led to Pakistan's second goal. Mudassar Ali Khan took a wild swipe from outside the striking circle. Vinay tried to trap the ball but edged it towards the far post. As the ball headed to strike the post, an unmarked Saqlain rushed in from the side and guided it into goal (2-0).
Kanwalpreet Singh standing next to the Pakistan skipper was more intent on the ball than the man he was supposed to mark.
India shifted Arjun Halappa and Ignace Tirkey combined well for a spell of domination that lasted for five minutes and gave India two penalty corners but both were wasted.
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