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Asia Cup: India begin campaign with 1-1 draw against Pakistan

India's Simranjeet Singh in action against Pakistan. Hockey India

Defending champions India conceded a late goal against Pakistan as the Asia Cup Pool A match ended in a 1-1 draw on Monday.

India took the lead in the ninth minute through Karthi Selvam before Abdul Rana equalised in the 59th from a penalty corner.

Pakistan had the first scoring chance in the third minute in the form of a penalty corner, but they failed to trap the ball properly as India survived. Seconds later, it was India's turn to secure a penalty corner but Neelam Sanjip Xess' effort was saved by the Pakistan goalie Akmal Hussain.

India continued to put pressure on the Pakistan defence and secured two more penalty corners in the first quarter, the second of which was converted by Karthi, who scored his first international goal after getting a deflection off the stick of defender Muhammad Abdullah.

Soon after the start of the second quarter, Pakistan goalkeeper Hussain made a fine reflex save to deny Pawan Rajbhar from point blank range.

India dominated the ball possession and secured another penalty corner in the 21st minute, but they failed to make it count.

Two minutes from the half-time, Pakistan got a chance to equalise when they were awarded a penalty corner for an unnecessary tackle outside the circle by Vishnukant Singh, but once again a miss-trap ruined the opportunity as India went into the break with a slender 1-0 lead.

Pakistan made a bright start after the change of ends. Seconds into the third quarter, Pakistan secured their third penalty corner but Rizwan Ali's flick went wide. Minutes later, India goalkeeper Suraj Karkera made a brilliant save from close range to deny Abdul Rana and then the resultant rebound was shot over by Afraz.

India also had chances to score - one to Rajbhar and then to Uttam Singh - but Pakistan goalkeeper Hussain was there to save his side. India kept up the pressure and secured a few more penalty corners in the third quarter but could convert none.

A lapse in concentration cost India dearly as a long ball caught Indian defence off guard in the final two minutes, resulting in a penalty corner for Pakistan.

Rana scored from a rebound after Mubashar Ali's flick was saved at the goal line by Yashdeep Siwach.

Credit should go to Pakistan keeper Hussain, who stood like a rock in front of the goal and he was rewarded with the player of the match award.

India will next play Japan on Tuesday.

Meanwhile in the other matches of the day, Malaysia beat Oman 7-0 and Korea defeated Bangladesh 6-1 in Pool B, while Japan thrashed hosts Indonesia 9-0 in Pool A.