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INDIA RECLAIMS ASIAN CHAMPIONS TROPHY

This is India’s third entry into the final of the Asian Champions Trophy, whose inaugural edition it won in 2011.

India prevailed 3-2 over Pakistan to reclaim the Asian Champions Trophy hockey title here on Sunday.

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Goals from Rupinder Pal Singh (18th minute), Yousuf Affan (23rd) and Nikkin Thimmaiah (51st) helped India surmount the challenge from Pakistan, which rallied from two goals behind through strikes by Muhammad Aleem Bilal (26th) and Ali Shan (38th) in the title clash of the fourth edition of the tournament.

This was the first time the teams were meeting in the final of a continental tournament since India dethroned Pakistan as the Asian Games champions in Incheon, South Korea in 2014.

India had won the inaugural edition of the Asian Champions Trophy, defeating Pakistan in 2011.

Pakistan reversed the result in the title contest the next year and went on to retain it in 2013 after putting it past Japan in the final. World No. 6 India was the favourite going into the tournament, but was without several seasoned players who had been rested to recuperate from injuries.

India went into the title contest without ace custodian P.R. Sreejesh, who was rested due to a pulled hamstring, and Akash Chikte took the position under the bar.

India scored in the 18th minute off its second penalty-corner as Rupinder sent a rasping drag-flick into the left side of the net.

This was the 11th penalty-corner conversion in the tournament by Rupinder, the highest goal-scorer by a big margin.

India increased the lead in the 23rd minute. Sardar Singh worked his way up the right flank and put Ramandeep Singh in possession on top of the circle.

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Ramandeep’s cross was deflected in by Yousuf Affan.

Under pressure, Pakistan responded by forcing its first penalty-corner, which was converted by Muhammad Aleem Bilal in the 26th minute.

The Pakistan defence had no trouble warding away India’s attempts to send long diagonal balls into the circle and capitalised on a lapse by the Indian defence to tie it up at 2-2 in the 38th minute.

Ali Shan wasted no time in slapping home the ball, deflected to him inside the scoring zone.

India had a goal disallowed on review in the 40th minute when the video umpire ruled that Kothajit Singh’s shot from outside the circle went into the goal without a touch.

India wrested the lead back in the 51st minute when Sardar again shaped the goal-bearing move by working his way up the left flank and giving a through pass to Thimmaiah, who beat Pakistan custodian Fareed Ahmed with a diagonal flick.

Article Reposted From Website THE HINDU

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