Harpal Singh Bedi / Bhubaneswar
A pale shadow of yore ,four times champion Pakistan had to wage a grim battle to hold Malaysia to a 1-1 draw to stay alive in the pool D of the 14th Hockey World Cup at Kalinga stadium here today.
This was the first time that Pakistan drew with Malaysia in the world cup having won all the five previous encounters.
Muhammad Atiq put Pakistan ahead in the 51 minute, while Faizal Saari equalised for Malaysia in the 55th minute.
Pakistan once a powerhouse of the game just survived and earned their first point in this edition of the tournament ,having earlier lost to Germany 0-1 in the opener. On the hand 12th ranked Malaysia who received 0-7 drubbing from the Netherlands, raised their game in this crucial encounter to keep their hopes, though slim, alive of making it to cross over.
.@hockeymalaysia took it to the very end in the match against @PHFOfficial and drew level in the final quarter of the game. The crowd was roaring as they witnessed this classic encounter unfold right in front of them.#IndiaKaGame #HWC2018 #DilHockey #MASvPAK pic.twitter.com/a5zEd9lTiU
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) December 5, 2018
Pakistan took the field in unfamiliar white shirts and opened the game with a feeble attack on the rival citadel which enable the Malaysian to launch a counter offensive and that earned them two penalty corners in a row.
The first was blocked by the runner and next was cleared by goalkeeper Imran Butt.A countered followed and Pakistan was awarded their first penalty corner but Aleem Bilal’s dragflick—directed at the top right corner was blocked by Kumar Subramaniam.
The former champions surprisingly allowed Malaysia far to much leeway and put their own defence under pressure.
Knowing well that Malaysian were using their flanks to attack, the Pakistanis did noth to chole the Rival’s supply line. Time and again Malaysians made moves through Fitri Saari and but for goal keeper Imran Butt their citadel would have fallen much earlier.
Imran brought off . another great save he booted away Razi Rahim’s dragflick directed at the bottom centre. If Imran turned out to be the sviour of his side, 39 year old Kumar Subramanium brought off few stunning saves keep Malaysian in the contention.
Pakistani attacked from the centre and some times they managed to put it across the defenders but could not beat Subramanium in the cave. Ali Shan made a solo move and then. Tasawar Abbas. Cut through from the mid field but of them found Subramanium tough nut to crack.
Striker Muhammad Irfan tried to enter the Malaysian circle from the right side, but Malaysian defenders foiled this incisive move. This led to Malaysian counter but Faizal Saari failed to intercept r Aiman Rozemi’s cross.
Malaysia against the run of play forced another penalty corner but Faizal Saari ‘s dragflick,was cleared by Imran Butt. The Pakistanis hit back as striker Umar Bhutta dash from the right earns them a penalty corner n. The umpire awards another corner after Mubashar Ali’s dragflick hits the runner’s foot. The second attempt was directed towards Muhammad Rizwan Senior, but he was unable to direct it into the goal.
Malaysia fought their way back and were awarded their fourth penalty corner ,, the eighth of the match overall. Malaysia took a variation with a backpass to Faizal Saari, who moved from the centre to the left, but his shot was blocked inches away from the point of release by the Pakistan’s runner.
Nine minutes from the close, Pakistanis surged ahead when captain Muhammad Rizwan Sr relayed a ball to Mohammed Atiq whose powerful shot beat Kumar Subramiam at the far post (1-1)
The lead lasted barely four minutes as Malaysian drew parity through a penalty corner conversion by Faizal Saari. (1-1) The next five minutes saw Pakistan piling pressure but their marksmen failed to score.