Champions Trophy: India finish last

India squandered a two-goal advantage to go down 4-3 to arch-rivals Pakistan in the 27th Sahara Champions Trophy Hockey tournament in Chennai.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:50 IST
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India squandered a two-goal advantage to go down 4-3 to archrivals Pakistan for a humiliating last-place finish on their home ground in the 27th Sahara Champions Trophy Hockey tournament in Chennai. The defeat in the playoff for 5-6 places meant India forfeited their place in the next edition of the elite six-nation tournament. Argentina will replace India in the next edition, to be held in Spain, by virtue of their win in Champions Challenge earlier this year. Repeat performance India, who had defeated the arch-rivals in the preliminary league, raised visions of a repeat performance as they rushed to a 2-0 lead within the first 15 minutes of the match but slackened later, thereby failing to break the jinx of losing to Pakistan in the play-off matches since 2002. Last year's bronze medalists Pakistan, who were slow off the blocks, came back strongly and exploited the complacency in the Indian ranks by scoring three goals, including a penalty stroke, in the space of 15 minutes to register their second win in the tournament. This is the third time that India have finished last, the earlier occasions being in 1985 Perth and 1989 Berlin. Three-time winners Pakistan had been claiming the bronze in the last three editions since 2002 defeating India in the play-off matches. Increasing the margin Kanwalpreet Singh drew first blood for India in the second minute, converting a penalty corner while Prabhjot Singh increased the lead to 2-0 in the 14th minute. But Muhammad Imran (33rd), Akthar Ali (38) and Muhammad Saqlain (48th penalty stroke) helped their team bounce back. Rehan Butt increased the margin in the 62nd minute. Though India tried to stage a comeback with captain Gagan Ajit Singh scoring in the 64th minute, they ran out of steam and failed to stop Pakistan from registering their 10th win over them in the Champions Trophy. Inspiring game Earlier, before the start of the match a one-minute silence was observed for the stampede victims in the city. The FIH flag was lowered to half-mast. The Indians played an inspiring game in the first 15 minutes, displaying rare teamwork and putting the Pakistanis under pressure straight away. With Prabhjot on the left, Gagan on the right and Tushar Khandekar in the centre, India made numerous moves and enjoyed most of the ball possession in the first half. Their movement was fast with good short passes and crosses from linkmen Arjun Halappa, Vikram Pillay and Ravipal. Pakistan did initiate a few moves with Shakeel Abbasi and Tarqi Aziz getting into the Indian circle but the defenders, led by William Zalxo, averted danger with deft play. Perhaps taking the cue from their match against Australia, India surprised Pakistan in the very second minute off their second move. (PTI)