India could not have asked for more. Defeating their traditional arch rivals by four goals to nil could not have given them a better start to the farewell edition of Champions Trophy at Breda in the Netherlands on Saturday.
The win, 60th for India, in 173 encounters between the two nations, saw them playing like a team at least in three of the four quarters. Though India won hands down, they survived a tough third quarter when Pakistan players were all over their territory but poor and erratic shooting and two good saves by Indian skipper and goalkeeper Sreejesh, kept them goalless.
After a barren first quarter, it was Ramandeep Singh, who latched onto a centre by young Simranjeet Singh and got the ball pass through the legs of Pakistani goalkeeper. After conceding a goal, Pakistan forwards, especially Ali and Shafqat, tormented Indian defence. In the 27th minute Sreejesh executed a brilliant save.
Leading 1-0 at the breather, India survived a goal. Ali Hassan had found the target but on protests from Indian players, Video referral saw the goal being disallowed.
Though India mostly defended well but at times when under pressure, they crowd their own circle and commited errors that put them in trouble. Luckily, these errors were not exploited by Pakistan today.
Against two penalty corners earned by India Pakistan had one. All went unproductive.
Two goals within two minutes put the game safely in hands of Indians. First it was Dilpreet Singh who in the 54th minute latched on to a brilliant pass from Simranjeet Singh and beat the onrushing Pakistani goalkeeper. At this stage Pakistan withdrew its goalkeeper and brought in an extra attacker. But the move proved costly for the promoters of Champions Trophy in the last edition of the event.
A minute after goalkeeper withdrawal, Mandeep Singh held on to a long clearance from Surinder Kumar and went on to score the third goal for India.It was still not over. It was Lalit Kumar who chipped in a cross in the last minute to make it 4-0 for India. The last goal had the ratification of the Video umpire as Pakistanis thought it had got from the body of the Indian player.