By Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Islamabad
The Pak Shaheens drew out a surprise 2-0 win against arch-rivals India in Bangalore, with a sublime free-kick from captain Kaleemullah and a well-taken goal by Saddam Hussain.
Mohammad Al-Shamlan’s boys dominated proceedings in the first half but were dented with injuries to Faisal Iqbal and Bilawal-ur-Rehman, both of whom made way for Mohsin Ali and Sher Baloch respectively.
But it was India who had the first try at goal on the 12th minute, with a blasting effort from Sunil Chhetri that goalkeeper Muzammil did well to save. On the other end, Kaleemullah had the chance to take the lead but his effort over the bar despite good efforts on the flanks.
The Dordoi Bishkek striker started to get into the game more and launched a surprise shot cum cross from the wing that Indian goalkeeper Amrinder Singh did well to judge.
India had the first chance to take the lead, but despite being through on goal Haokip was unable to convert with Muzammil being quick to narrow down his angle.
On the other hand, Sunil Chhetri conceded a free-kick just outside the box on 37th minute and captain Kaleemullah was on hand to fire one into the top corner and take a stunning 1-0 lead.
Pakistan continued to press forward but India matched their efforts for most of the remaining minutes, as the two sides headed to the half-time break.
After the breather, Pakistan were again threatened with injuries as Mohammad Ahmed and Muzammil both took tumbles and had to receive treatment. With increasing minutes, the game become rougher and yellow cards were splashed out for Mohammad Riaz first and later for Sher Baloch.
Despite their best efforts, India couldn’t find the killer touch and it allowed Pakistan to setup a dream win with Saddam Hussain through on the goal with Kaleemullah alongside him in the 81th minute, but the midfielder went for goal, only to see his attempt being saved by Amrinder.
However, luckily Saddam had the chance to put things right and did so emphatically with a very well taken finish in injury time, resulting in a 2-0 win for Pakistan and an overall triumph in the series.