Indian player Danish Mujtaba celebrates his birthday with fans at Al Rayyan Stadium yesterday. RIGHT: The scoreboard shows Oman leading 2-1 in their match against Pakistan. Pakistan bounced back to win 8-3.PICTURES BY: SALIM MATRAMKOT
Doha: Defending champions India and top-ranked Pakistan began their campaign in the Asian Champions Trophy hockey on a winning note at the Al Rayyan Stadium yesterday.
Eight-time Olympic champions India had a smooth sailing in their opening match trouncing 2006 Asian Games silver medal winners China 4-0.
In the last match, of the three played yesterday, four-time World Cup winners Pakistan struggled in the initial stages of the match but bounced back to trounce Oman 8-3.
The four-time World Cup winners appeared complacent as the start against Oman, the lowest ranked team in the competition, with the half time score tied at two-all.
But the world number five team got into their groove in the second half. Pakistan who were one stage trailing 2-1 pumped in six more goals in the second half against a helpless Oman, the only GCC country taking part in the top Asian tournament.
Shakeel Abbasi scored four goals while Mohammad Rizwan, Waqas Mohammad, Mohammad Imran and Abdul Khan scored one goal apiece for Pakistan.
Rajab Basim (2 goals) and Jandal Bait reduced the margin for Oman
In the second match, India which defeated Pakistan to win the last edition of the tournament held in China, avenged their 2006 Doha Asian Games loss to China in their fluent win.
Yesterday, the Indian coached by Michael Nobbs of Australia struck twice in each half to get full points in the round-robin championship, where the top two will contest in the final on December 27.
Drag-flicker VR Raghunath struck in the 17th and the 52nd minute converting two of the three penalty corners India won.
India, which also lost to China in the 2010 Asian Games in China, opened the scoring through SV Sunil in the 13th minute and thereafter dominated play with China making an occasional move.
India completed the tally in the 53rd with a long hit from Rupinder Singh deflecting into the goal of a Chinese defender’s stick.
“It was a solid effort. I’m happy with the team effort. The boys played upto the mark. Everyone did what was expected of them and the scoreline wasn’t that important,” said Nobbs.
In the first match, Malaysia won 4-1 against Japan.
In today’s matches, India take on Japan at 3.00pm, while Pakistan face China at 5.00pm. Malaysia and Oman will see action in the last match at 7.00pm.