Evergreen Sohail carves out draw with India


Pakistan came from behind to draw 3-3 against arch-rivals India in an ill-tempered match of the double leg tri-nation hockey tournament on Friday. Veteran drag-flicker Sohail Abbas struck twice for Pakistan in the 46th and 64th minutes while captain Shakeel Abbasi scored the equaliser a minute later after India had taken what seemed to be an unassailable 3-0 lead at the breather.
For India, Tushar Khandkar, Danish Mujtaba and Rupinder Pal Singh scored in the violent-marred match which was stopped one minute and 35 seconds before the end of regulation time due to ugly incidents on the field involving players of both sides. Despite one minute and 35 seconds remaining in the clock, the drawn result of the thrilling match stand as the two teams decided to stop the match after a half-an-hour stoppage. India were clearly the better side in the first half with numerous attacks on the Pakistani citadel. Immediately after a Danish Mujtaba’s hit was palmed away by Pakistan goalie Imran Shah, Khandar put India ahead in the fifth minute. He latched on to a cross from the right and gently tapped in an aerial ball into the net. This fifth minute goal added venom to Pakistan attack but the Indian defence, manned by VR Raghunath and Manjit and ably assisted by Sardar Singh, withstood the pressure. Mujtaba then doubled the lead for India before Rupinder, who a minute ago missed a sitter, came good in the 27th minute to consolidate the lead as Michael Nobbs’ boys went to the lemon break 3-0 ahead. Pakistan bounced back in style in the second half with veteran Abbasi rising to the occasion to rescue his side with two goals and then captain Abbasi restoring parity five minutes from the hooter. In the closing stages of the match, a hard tackle by an Indian player resulted in a scuffle between the two teams. The incident forced the match to be stopped for about half-an-hour. Even though the two teams returned to the turf later, they agreed not to resume the match. Tournament Director Girhme Napier said it was a fair decision. This is the last match of the first leg, the teams now move to Burnbury, 150 kms from Perth.