India prevailed 3-2 over Pakistan to reclaim the Asian Champions Trophy hockey title here on Sunday. Goals from Rupinder Pal Singh (18th minute), Yousuf Affan (23rd) and Nikkin Thimmaiah (51st) helped India surmount the challenge from Pakistan, which rallied from two goals behind through strikes by Muhammad Aleem Bilal (26th) and Ali Shan (38th) in the title clash of the fourth edition of the tournament.
This was the first time the teams were meeting in the final of a continental tournament since India dethroned Pakistan as the Asian Games champions in Incheon, South Korea in 2014. India had won the inaugural edition of the Asian Champions Trophy, defeating Pakistan in 2011.
Pakistan reversed the result in the title contest the next year and went on to retain it in 2013 after putting it past Japan in the final. World No. 6 India was the favourite going into the tournament, but was without several seasoned players who had been rested to recuperate from injuries.
India went into the title contest without ace custodian P.R. Sreejesh, who was rested due to a pulled hamstring, and Akash Chikte took the position under the bar. India scored in the 18th minute off its second penalty-corner as Rupinder sent a rasping drag-flick into the left side of the net.
This was the 11th penalty-corner conversion in the tournament by Rupinder, the highest goal-scorer by a big margin. India increased the lead in the 23rd minute. Sardar Singh worked his way up the right flank and put Ramandeep Singh in possession on top of the circle.
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