A late 2-2 draw for Pakistan has feel of a win vs India

April 7, 2018

India's Sunil Sowmarpet is caught between Pakistan's Muhammad Faisal Qadir, right, and Toseeq Arshad, left, during a scuffle in their match at the Hockey Center during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, April 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — When is a draw a win?

For this Pakistan team, it’s when coming back from 0-2 down to draw against India — after the siren — in their Commonwealth Games preliminary match at Labrador.

There is always underlying emotion when these neighboring countries play, and Saturday’s game saw four yellow two cards and two cautions issued.

The Indian lineup showed better pace and ball skills but, with team officials saying their prayers on the sideline, Ali Mubashar converted Pakistan’s eighth penalty corner to draw the game.

The video referral that led to the penalty corner was contentious and the mainly pro-Indian crowd was quick to voice its disappointment.

But not Pakistan coach Roelant Oltmans, who gave a wry smile when asked how it felt to beat a team he previously coached.

Oltmans spent four years with the Indian team after being appointed High Performance Director in 2013 and then moving into senior coaching role.

“Of course it helps knowing India but I analyze every opponent,” Oltmans said. “At halftime we were 2-nil down but we had our opportunities and told our boys we had to continue — I was sure we could keep pressure on them and we got quite a number of,” penalty corners.”

The Dutchman said India was a strong team, and so he had no trouble turning all his attention to Pakistan when he returned to the top job.

“The only thing important for me is to bring Pakistan back,” he said. “Mentally the boys felt they were strong to come back and they were so focused. Lucky after the final whistle to score a goal, but agood decision from our players to ask for a referral.”

Pakistan, a three-time Olympic and four-time World Cup champion, failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and is currently ranked No. 13 in the world.

That’s well below eight-time Olympic gold medalist India, the highest ranked team in Asia at No. 6.

Regardless of the rankings, though, the Indo-Pak contests are always tense — despite what Oltmans says.

“Look off the field these boys know each other very well — in the (athletes) village they play table tennis or billiards,” he said. “When they take the field they have healthy competition — this is what you want.”

But when the 63-year-old Oltmans — an Olympic-winning coach with the Netherlands who can be intense or charming depending on the result — almost skips over to a news conference after a game, it’s fairly clear a 2-2 draw can feel like a victory.

Update hourly