The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India win 4-1, level series
- Sandeep returns to form with a brace as Pakistan falter

Quetta: An under-strength India sprung a major surprise over arch-rivals Pakistan, beating them 4-1 to level the four-match hockey series 1-1 here on Monday.

India, who lost the first Test in Karachi narrowly, bounced back strongly to register their first triumph over Pakistan in eight matches.

Riding on a brace by drag-flicker Sandeep Singh (13th and 17th minutes) and a 33rd-minute strike by Ignace Tirkey, the visitors were 3-0 up by half-time before Tushar Khandekar added to the tally in the 60th minute with an opportunistic goal.

Pakistan wasted four penalty corners before scoring from the fifth in the 69th minute through Sohail Abbas for their consolation goal.

India seemed under a lot of pressure when the match started at the Gen. Musa Stadium, hosting a major tie after a long time, but they got into a rhythm as the match progressed.

But more than India's brilliance, it was the waywardness of the Pakistanis which led to their shock defeat.

India got themselves into a position of strength in the first half itself when Sandeep scored twice in a span of three minutes, both coming from penalty corners, before Ignace hammered home for 3-0.

Sandeep, who had a tremendous outing in the junior Asia Cup where he was the tournament top-scorer, brought an end to a lean patch at the higest level with the twin strikes, outwitting Pakistani goalkeeper Salman Akbar on both the occasions.

The youngster from Haryana, expected to fill in the shoes of expert drag flicker Jugraj Singh, scored from the first two penalty corners in the first 17 minutes. Akbar, who was expecting high flicks from Sandeep on both the occasions, was foxed when the Indian beat him with cleverly hit carpet shots. Pakistan tried hard to stage a comeback briefly when they made some dangerous moves up the wings and in the process earned a couple of penalty corners in the 23rd and 30th minutes.

But the hosts' hopes of reducing the margin came crashing after goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza charged out to effect fine saves on both the occasions ' first from a variation and second from a powerful drag-flick from Sohail Abbas, the world's second-highest goal scorer behind Holland's Paul Litjens.

The Indians made the life of Pakistanis difficult further when Ignace scored in the 33rd minute from a fine counter move.

Vivek Gupta's hit into the Pakistan circle was well stopped by Arjun Halappa, whose reverse pass was used to the maximum effect by Igance, unleashing a rasping hit to beat Akbar all ends up.

The visitors suffered a jolt when key midfielder Viren Rasquinha was temporarily suspended for an infringement in the 55th minute. But Pakistan failed to take advantage of the 10-men India even though they managed to win two penalty corners with Dilwar Hussain being unable to stop Rehan Butt's pushes from the set pieces.

Young forward Khandekar, who had an outstanding game on Monday, deservedly drove the last nail in Pakistan's coffin with a goal in the 60th minute.

Meanwhile, Pakistan will honour four Indian hockey Olympians during the fourth and final match of the series in Lahore on October 1. Shahid Pervez Bhandara, chairman of the organising committee of the Lahore match, said Aslam Sher Khan, B. P. Govinda, S. S. Sodhi and Ajit Pal Singh will be honoured for their contribution to the game. (PTI)

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