In Jakarta on Thursday, the Indian men’s hockey team rose to the occasion, scoring six goals in the final quarter to defeat Indonesia 16-0, advancing the holders to the Asia Cup knockout stage but ruling Pakistan out of the World Cup.
To qualify, India needed to win by at least a 15-0 score in Pool A, and the youthful players delivered under duress.
In Pool A, both India and Pakistan finished with four points, however the reigning champions advanced for the Super 4s due to a greater goal differential.
Pakistan had earlier in the day lost 2-3 against Japan.
The outcome not only eliminated Pakistan from the tournament, but it also ended their chances of qualifying for the World Cup, as only the top three teams from the Asia Cup will receive tickets to the main event.
As the hosts, India earned an automatic berth in the World Cup, and as a result, Hockey India opted to send young players to the competition to gain experience.
Dipsan Tirkey (5 goals) and Sudev Belimagga (3 goals) combined for eight goals, all of which were essential in the team’s victory.
SV Sunil, Pawan Rajbhar, and Karthi Selvam each scored a brace, while India’s other goal scorers were Uttam Singh and Nilam Sanjeep Xess.
With the odds stacked against them, India began aggressively and had the first chance at goal in the seventh minute, but Uttam Singh, who only had the goalkeeper to beat, pushed Maninder Singh’s feed wide.
Rajbhar broke the shackles in the 10th minute with a thunderous strike from the top of the circle.
A minute later, Rajbhar extended India’s lead with a rebound from the team’s first penalty corner.
India’s lead was extended a minute into the first quarter by Uttam, who was in the right place at the right time to tap home.
In the 19th minute, India maintained their attacking instincts and earned another penalty corner, from which Sunil scored after recovering from a miss-stop.
The Indians earned back-to-back penalty corners a minute later, with Nilam Sanjeep Xess converting the second to make the score 5-0.
Sunil made it 6-0 in the 24th minute as he deflected Karthi Selvam’s near-post pass in.
Uttam squandered another chance after the change of ends, shooting wide from close range with only the Indonesian goalkeeper to beat.
India earned their eighth penalty corner minutes later, but Junius Rumaropen made another double save.
Selvam scored in the 40th minute after being set up by a fantastic Rajbhar, who used his stickwork and muscular play to get past three-four Indonesian defenders.
India won three straight penalty corners, the latest of which was scored by Dipsan to keep the team’s hopes alive.
Dipsan’s second goal came from a penalty kick in the 42nd minute.
The Indians managed two more penalty corners, but Dipsan was unable to convert both of them.
After that, Belimagga scored two goals in a two-minute span before Dipsan completed his hat-trick by converting India’s 14th penalty corner to make the score 12-0.
Following that, the Indians gained a few penalty corners, but the opportunities were missed.
Tirkey then converted a penalty corner in the 47th minute, before Sudev scored five minutes later on a rebound from another set piece.
The Indians attacked with numbers in search of goals, and their strategy paid off when Karthi Selvam scored from a field effort. In the closing minute of the game, Tirkey converted two more penalty corners to keep India in the competition.