Defending champions India came from behind twice to hold arch-rivals Pakistan to a 3-3 draw in a thrilling opening match of the Sultan of Johor Cup junior men's hockey tournament in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, on Friday. Goals from Amandeep Lakra (30th minute), Aditya Arjun Lalage (56th) and Uttam Singh (59th) ensured a point for India after Arbaz Ahmad (31st, 58th) and Abdul Shahid (49th) scored for Pakistan. (Full Coverage | Hockey News)
Both the teams lived up to the billing in the opening match of the tournament, considered as a litmus test for all participating sides ahead of the forthcoming men's Junior World Cup to be held in Malaysia this December.
The first big scoring opportunity came in the 12th minute but India's Angad Bir Singh's shot went across the goal with no one at the far end to tap the ball in.
Even though neither team came up with potent attacking formations in the first quarter, both the sides defended well. The second quarter saw Pakistan make a strong start with a penalty in the opening minute, but India defended stoutly. India then got a few chances in the circle, and also earned their first penalty corner which went wasted.
A Goal-Filled second half unfolds, yet the match culminates in an intense draw!💯— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) October 27, 2023
🇮🇳 India 3 : 3 Pakistan 🇵🇰#HockeyIndia#IndiaKaGame#SOJC2023@cmo_odisha@sports_odisha@Media_SAI
The defending champions finally drew the first blood in the 30th minute, seconds before the half-time hooter through drag-flicker Amandeep. But a minute after the change of ends, Pakistan drew level through a penalty corner conversion by Arbaz Ahmad.
Showcasing positive body language, the Indian colts didn't seem perturbed by the goal and continued to build on their attack. Poovana Boby Chandura took a brave shot on goal in the 39th minute but was well-saved by the Pakistani goalkeeper Ali Raza. The next few minutes saw India made a few forays into Pakistan's striking circle, but a goal remained elusive.
With the scores levelled at 1-1, both the teams went all out for the three points. And Pakistan managed to take the lead in the 49th minute when their captain Abdul Shahid scored past Indian goalkeeper Mohit.
India pressed hard and secured a penalty corner in the 50th minute, only to be denied by the Pakistani goalkeeper. With five minutes left on the clock, India found another opportunity through another penalty corner and this time Aditya scored from a rebound.
Just under three minutes from the final hooter, Pakistan restored their lead when a penalty corner was well-converted by Arbaz. With minutes left in the game, Uttam scored a brilliant field goal to save India.
India will take on hosts Malaysia on Saturday.