India out of Asia Cup hockey medal race

May 12th, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuantan (Malaysia), May 12 (IANS) Defending champions India were knocked out of medal contention in the Asia Cup hockey tournament after they were held 2-2 by China in their concluding league fixture here Tuesday.
India, who had lost 2-3 to Pakistan in their first match, needed a win against China to qualify for the semi-finals from the three-team pool. However, after taking a 2-0 lead in the first-half, India surrendered the initiative as China, who had drawn 1-1 with Pakistan, struck twice after resumption.

India thus finished their league engagements with one point while Pakistan topped the pool with four, followed by China (2).

In an action-packed encounter, the Indians looked well set to win when Sandeep Singh converted two penalty corners in the 31st and 34th minutes with China very much on the defensive.

However, the Indians had not reckoned with the speed and fitness of the Chinese who, on resumption, went on a full-scale attack to apply relentless pressure.

The Chinese efforts bore fruit as they made an indirect penalty corner conversion in the 45th minute to get back into the game.

As the minutes ticked by India made a few forays but, as in the past, they were let down by some poor finishing with their forwards unable to complete threatening moves.

India forced their third penalty corner in the 51st, but Sandeep’s feeble push could not beat the Chinese defence.

At the other end, China struck the equalizer in the 59th minute through their Beijing Olympics star Yu Yang, who found the boards from a set-piece free-hit action.

Thereafter, a desperate India made a few attempts to score, but apart from wasting another penalty corner 50 seconds from the close, they could not get a clear look at the Chinese goal.

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