National hockey player from Odisha, Birendra Lakra presented a shining example of sportsman spirit in a hotly contested Asian Champions Trophy final against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday.
In a match that was pretty much a tense contest, considering the recent cross-border skirmishes between the two countries, Lakra proved that sportsman spirit could rise above all this.
When the two countries faced off against each other in the Asian Champions hockey Trophy final in Kuantan, Malaysia, they were playing for much more than just the title of being the contintent’s best squad.
Currently ranked sixth in the world, India headed into the encounter as firm favourites to lift the trophy. However, due to the volatile nature of this rivalry, even a lower-ranked Pakistan more often than not bring their A game to the table.
In the final quarter India were leading 3-2, when the ball touched Lakra’s leg prompting the Pakistanis to appeal for a penalty corner. The referee was not sure, meaning that Pakistan had to go for the final referral.
Then Lakra did something incredible. He walked up to the referee and indicated that the ball had indeed touched his leg and requested him not to let Pakistan use up their last referral. A surprised referee halted the review process and awarded Pakistan the penalty corner.
Later on, each Pakistani player was seen patting the Indian fullback on his back, praising him for his honesty in a pressure-cooker situation. They immediately assembled for the penalty corner but made a hash of it as India went on to win their second title.
Not only that, Pakistan coach K M Junaid too hugged Lakra for his act, expressing his gratitude for the act.
India not only won the game on the field, but through Lakra, won the hearts and minds of fans belonging to either side of the border.
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