Ipoh (Malaysia), May 31 (PTI): India relied on a penultimate-minute goal by striker S V Sunil as they beat arch rivals Pakistan 2-1 in a thrilling match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here today.
Sunil made a diving effort to push the ball into the goal in the 69th minute to clinch the issue for India and keep themselves in the hunt for a podium finish. Sardar Singh created the opening with his defence-splitting pass to the right and Sunil capitalised on the chance.
India, who are already out of contention for a final berth, had earlier opened the scoring in the 30th minute through Sandeep Singh's penalty corner conversion while Pakistan equalised through a penalty corner goal by skipper Sohail Abbas in the 59th minute.
The victory gave India a chance to stay in the hunt for the bronze medal match. India collected nine points from their six round-robin league matches and now await the other results to know who would be their opponent in the play-offs for final positions.
In a match devoid of many openings for field goals, Pakistan had the first look at the Indian goal in the 13th minute when unmarked Shafqat Rasool received a cross from right on top of circle, but failed to beat goalkeeper Bharat Chetri with his reverse hit. Pakistan then forced two penalty corners in the next minute, but the Indian defence stood firm.
Not many goal-bearing moves were produced by either team and then Indian strikers finally exerted pressure to earn a penalty corner that was converted by Sandeep, who sent a rising drag-flick into the net to put India ahead in the half-hour mark.
A minute later, Shivendra failed to trap Tushar Khandekar's defence-splitting cross from left.