Doha: Defending champions India fought valiantly but lost a nine-goal cliffhanger to Pakistan in the final of the Asian Champions Trophy on Thursday, with Mohammad Imran's 64th minute strike winning it for Pakistan 5-4.
The match was not short of drama with the Indian team at one stage threatening to quit over an umpiring decision. India were the first to go on attack, earning a penalty corner (PC) in the 6th minute, but it was Pakistan who opened scoring in the next minute through Muhammad Waqas. The defending champions though didn't take long to come back, scoring the equaliser in the 9th minute through striker SV Sunil.
India then pressed on to earn another PC in the 21st minute, which was converted by defender and vice captain VR Raghunath. India could have scored another goal at the half-time hooter when they were awarded one more PC but it went begging and the teams took a lemon break at 2-1 to India.
The crowd was entertained with a breathtaking display of attacking hockey in the second half that saw six more goals. After failing to find an equaliser in the first 10 minutes of the second half, Shafqat Rasool finally made it 2-2 in the 42nd minute. Six minutes later, the Pakistani section of the crowd erupted in joy when Mohammad Imran's flick made it 3-2.
With the clock ticking, India were desperate to draw level and finally did it through Gurvinder Singh Chandi, who made it 3-3 in the 55th minute. By now, the game had opened up with both sides resorting to counter-attacks. On one such move, Waqas once again made his presence felt and scored Pakistan's fourth goal two minutes after India had equalised through Chandi.
As the clock completed 58th minute, Rupinderpal got himself on the scoresheet on a PC to once again lock it at 4-4. A goal from either side at this stage would have put the pressure on the other, and it was Mohammad Imran who was able to do that for Pakistan in the 64th minute to seal it for Pakistan at 5-4.
Tempers flayed when India questioned an umpiring decision and demanded a PC. The umpires disagreed and the Indian team walked off the field, only to return a couple of minutes later to complete the match.