Stage set for India-Pakistan final

MUSCAT, OCT 27 – The stage was set for a blockbuster India-Pakistan title showdown in the fifth edition of the Asian Champions Trophy after India edged Japan 3-2 in a pulsating second semifinal in Muscat on Saturday.
At the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, India attacked with purpose in the final quarter as Dilpreet Singh’s brilliant field goal in the 55th minute saw India comfortable at 3-1.
As it has happened many times, Japan quickly kept themselves in contention with a goal from a penalty corner. Hirotoka Zendana’s strong hit powered past Indian custodian PK Sreejesh to land inside the top roof of the net.
After a 1-1 first-half, India were able to break the deadlock when they were awarded a penalty corner after a fine move.
Chinglensana Kangujan brought the smiles back to the large crowd of Indian supporters with a firm strike from a penalty corner in the 44th minute to make it 2-1.
Earlier, India took the lead in the 19th minute as Gurjant Singh’s reverse shot landed inside the Japan goal.
However, the joy of Indian fans did not last long.
Japan restored parity three minutes later when Hirotaka Wakuri struck home from a penalty corner.
The match started with both the teams tightly defending in the first quarter though it saw some good moves from India.
India’s Akashdeep Singh was adjudged the man of the match in the second semifinal.
The final between India and Pakistan is expected to be another thriller on Sunday.
Japan will meet Malaysia in the bronze medal match before the title clash.

Anuroop Athiparambath