India emerged as the best team of the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy, held in China. Emerging as the only undefeated team, among the six participants, young Indian team provided the icing on the cake by shooting out arch-rival Pakistan in the final, 4-2.
Before the match, India and Pakistan played 5 matches at pool stage, where after drawing the last league match 2-2 against Pakistan, India emerged as the second best in the pool, behind the leader Pakistanis.
The match was a tensed one, as expected. Unavailability of proper shoes for some Indian players reminded Indians of the era around 1920s where Indian players played some international games without shoes.
Pakistanis had announced to play aggressive game in the final against India. While the players followed their announcement during the match, specially during first half, the Pakistani Coach followed the same aggression without sticks. He, reportedly, continued using fould language against the Indian players during the final match.
India also tacked the Pakistani aggression with counterattacks. But despite aggressive Asian style game, none could score a goal during the allotted time. The match went to to ideal decider, apt for the first such trophy for Asian champs.
Goalkeeper S Sreejesh surprised all, including Indian fans, by saving two penalty strokes of Pakistani players. Only Muhammad Rizwan and Waseem Ahmed could score for Pakistan. Sreejesh stopped the strokes of Haseem Abdul Khan and Shafqat Rasool to take Indian hockey to a new high.
Rajpal Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Yuvraj Walmiki and Sarvanjit Singh were the goal scorers for India, after Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Shah saved Gurwinder Singh Chandi hit, which was the first for India.
Earlier, at pool stage, Pakistan registered 3 victories (beating Malaysia 3-2, China 4-1 and Korea 3-2), drew one (2-2 with India) and lost one (1-3 to Japan) to finish as pool leader.
India finished second without losing a match at pool stage, registering two biggest victories of the tournament (5-0 against China, 5-3 agains Kore), drawing remaining three (1-1 against Japan, 2-2 against Malaysia, 2-2 against Pakistan).
Malaysia defeated Japan 1-0 to finish third, while Korea defeated host China 2-1 to finish fifth.
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