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Malaysia hold Pakistan to 1-1 draw in World Cup

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A pale shadow of yore, four-time champions Pakistan had to wage a grim battle to hold Malaysia to a 1-1 draw to stay alive in Pool D of the 14th Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium here this evening.
 
This was the first time that Pakistan drew with Malaysia in the World Cup, having won all their five previous encounters.
 
Muhammad Atiq put Pakistan ahead in the 51st 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 other 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 crossover.
 
Pakistan took the field in unfamiliar white shirts and opened the game with a feeble attack on the rival citadel which enabled the Malaysians 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 counter followed and Pakistan were 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 too much leeway and put their own defence under pressure.
 
Knowing well that the Malaysians were using their flanks to attack, the Pakistanis did nothing to choke the rivals' supply line. Time and again, the 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 when he booted away Razi Rahim's dragflick directed at the bottom centre. If Imran turned out to be the saviour of his side, 39-year-old Kumar Subramanium brought off a few stunning saves to keep the Malaysians in the contention.
 
Pakistan 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 midfield but both of them found Subramanium a 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 a Malaysian counter but Faizal Saari failed to intercept 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's dash from the right earned them a penalty corner. The umpire awarded another corner after Mubashar Ali's dragflick hit 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 Pakistan's runner.
 
Nine minutes from the close, the Pakistanis surged ahead when captain Muhammad Rizwan Sr relayed a ball to Mohammed Atiq whose powerful shot beat Kumar Subramiam at the far post (1-0).
 
The lead lasted barely four minutes as Malaysia 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.
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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