India won a hard-fought match against Pakistan on Sunday, clinching the Asian Champions Trophy after five long years. Besides the goal scorers Rupinder Pal Singh, Affan Yousuf and Nikkin Thimmaiah, Indian defender Birendra Lakra was also a highlight in the thrilling match which ended 3-2 in India’s favour.
Tensions were high not just because both the teams are top contenders, but also because of the current tensions at the border.
Players from both the sides upheld their sportsmanship, especially Indian defender Birendra Lakra. When India was leading 3-2 with less than 15 minutes left for the final blower, the ball touched Lakra’s foot when Pakistan’s Bilal Aleem tried to cross the ball inside the box.
While the Pakistani team immediately appealed for a penalty, the referee wasn’t so sure. When he referred to the review umpire for a better understanding of what happened, Lakra ran up to the referee and admitted that the ball had in fact touch his foot. He then asked the official not to use up Pakistan’s last referral.
The referee and the Pakistani side were pleasantly surprised by the gesture that proved that sports really transcend the current security and political situation between the two countries.
Patting Lakra on the back, the Pakistani players quickly took their places for the penalty corner which they failed to convert into a goal.
Pakistani coach Khawaja Junaid went up to Lakra and expressed his appreciation of the gesture.
“We have such a lack of exposure, we hardly play any hockey, but in a match which will eventually have such a massive implication both politically and sportingly, Lakra’s gesture truly shows how both teams only care about one aspect and that’s playing the sport to the best of their abilities.” Khawaja Junaid, Pakistani Hockey Coach
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