In the recent men's Asian Championship Trophy Hockey 2023, held at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai, India secured a significant victory over arch-rivals Pakistan with a final score of 4-0 in their last league stage match. The match took place on Wednesday, August 9, 2023. Notably, skipper Harmanpreet Singh showcased impressive performance by scoring two goals from penalty corners in the 15th and 23rd minutes.
Additionally, Jugraj Singh contributed with another goal in the 36th minute, and Akashdeep Singh sealed India's victory with a field goal in the 55th minute. This win allowed India to advance to the semifinals of the tournament while maintaining an unbeaten record. With four wins and one draw, India leads the standings with 13 points. Despite having the same five points as Korea and Japan, Pakistan was eliminated from the tournament based on goal difference. Pakistan's aspiration to move to the semifinals was contingent on either a draw or a one-goal loss, which unfortunately did not materialize.
Before the game, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin greeted the players from both countries, and Indian cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin also made an appearance. Pakistan provided the early sparks by repeatedly entering the Indian circle. However, the Indian defence maintained its cool in order to prevent any inroads into its neighbors.
Pakistan's initial goal attempt materialized as a penalty corner, skillfully thwarted by Indian goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak. In the ninth minute, Pakistan sought a penalty corner following three consecutive Indian attacks led by Karthi Selvam, Jarmanpreet Singh, and Mandeep Singh. However, the video referee dismissed Pakistan's appeal. Approaching the end of the first quarter, India secured a penalty corner, with Harmanpreet executing a forceful low flick to the left of Pakistan's goalkeeper Akmal, consequently propelling India into the lead. The 23rd minute witnessed India's acquisition of their second penalty corner, allowing Harmanpreet to deliver a powerful drag-flick that found its way through the legs of Pakistan's goalkeeper Akmal, effectively doubling India's advantage.
Continuing their unwavering momentum following the halftime break, India maintained their fervor and earned an additional penalty corner within the first six minutes of the third quarter. Jugraj once again found the mark, securing a third goal for India. In the 41st minute, India managed to hit the target once more, as Harmanpreet skillfully redirected the ball into the goal off a deflection from a Pakistani stick. However, the goal was negated following a video review due to concerns about the ball's dangerous trajectory.
A promising opportunity emerged as Selvam efficiently delivered the ball into the box, finding an unguarded Akashdeep. Regrettably, Akashdeep's attempt to convert went wide, providing another chance for the Indian team. Pakistan earned their second penalty corner in the 43rd minute but couldn't capitalize on it.
The scoreboard eventually read 4-0 in India's favor during the 55th minute, as Akashdeep deflected Mandeep Singh's shot into the net. In the upcoming semifinals, India is set to clash with Japan, while Malaysia will compete against Korea. The stage is set for an exciting Friday of hockey action.