Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: Efficient as clockwork, India thrash Pakistan 5-1 and climb to second spot


Elated at having played a part in India’s runaway 5-1 win over Pakistan, ace drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh today rued the missed penalty stroke that would have bolstered the victory margin in the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Ipoh.
India’s win is their biggest against the sub-continental hockey rivals, equalling the 5-1 win in the 2010 South Asian Games in Dhaka. The result sparked celebrations among the expatriate Indian population here.
“It was one of our best performances. We played well to dominate the game and post the four-goal victory,” said Rupinder, who converted a penalty corner to round off the Indian scoring in the 54th minute.
The earlier goals were scored by Manpreet Singh (fourth minutes), SV Sunil (10th and 41st) and Talwinder Singh (50th).
Rupinder could have bolstered the margin in the 55th minute, but messed up a penalty stroke that was awarded when Manpreet Singh was tripped inside the scoring circle.
Rupinder’s penalty flick went straight to goalkeeper Imran Butt.
“I did not execute the penalty stroke well. I was looking to send it into the top right corner, but faltered with the flick,” said Rupinder.
“I failed to make the most of this scoring chance. We could have scored more goals the way we dominated the second half of the match,” said Rupinder, adding that the Indian players benefitted from keeping their composure.
“Earlier, the players would get excited when playing against Pakistan. But today we stayed calm and struck to our game-plan,” said Rupinder.
Pleased with India’s show, coach Roelant Oltmans also said it could have been a bigger scoreline.
“We controlled the game in the second half. I was very pleased at the number of chances we created,” said Oltmans.
The Indian coach complimented half-back Manpreet Singh, who played a key role for his team and was adjudged the Player of the Match.
Manpreet had to leave for home ahead of India’s first outing on hearing news of his father’s death. He returned after his father’s cremation and played a key role in India’s victories over Canada on Sunday and against Pakistan.
“We’re very proud of what Manpreet has done for the Indian team,” said Oltmans.
“You don’t always see players coming back from their bereavement and playing such an outstanding match,” said Oltmans.
“Manprret has told us that he also had to fulfil his duty toward the team, and that the teammates are like his brothers,” said Oltmans, showing rare signs of emotion at the post-match conference.
Pakistan team manager Hanif Khan acknowledged that India were very strong in the field.
“India played very well, we all know that India are preparing for the Olympic Games, while we’re in the process of re-building our team,” Hanif said.
“Losing a match is always a big issue, but we’re trying to learn from every game,” he said.

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