KARACHI: Asian Games Champions Pakistan got off to a confident start in the four-match hockey series with an easy 3-0 win over China at the Hockey Club of Pakistan on Wednesday.
It was a historic occasion as international hockey returned to Pakistan after seven years.
Pakistan enjoyed the upper hand during the match and utilized half of their half a dozen penalty corners to secure a comfortable win.
Muhammad Irfan and captain Muhammad Imran scored the goals in the first session and Muhammad Tauseeq banged one goal in the second session.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who was the chief guest at the ceremony was introduced to both the teams and officials before the start of the match.
President Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Qasim Zia, Secretary Asif Bajwa, Chief Selector Hanif Khan, Olympians Hasan Sardar, Danish Kaleem, Salim Sherwani, Ahmed Alam and Secretary of Karachi Hockey Association (KHA) Farooq Khan and other officials were also present on the occasion.
Spearhead Shakeel Abbasi made two lively crosses in the first five minutes but fellow forwards failed to divert the ball into the goal.
Pakistan was rewarded in the 15th minute when they secured a penalty corner after the ball struck the defender inside the circle. Muhammad Irfan smartly converted it giving no chance to Chinese goalie Su Rifeng.
Pakistani forwards maintained a constant pressure on the Chinese goal. After missing the second penalty corner in the 20th minute, three minutes later Muhammad Imran doubled the lead with a well executed drag-flick in the 23rd minute.
Chinese forwards showed spark in patches by smart checking but the defenders thwarted their attempts. Dong Yang, Liu Yixian and Sun Long created a few lovely moves.
Pakistan went into half-time with a 2-0 lead. However, in the second half, the Chinese looked slightly better and picked up the tempo with a couple of moves.
In the 51st minutes it was young Muhammad Tauseeq, who converted the team’s fifth penalty corner with a powerful drag push landing on the top of the cage.
Chinese forwards were determined to score their opener and forced back to back penalty corners in t62 and 63 minutes. On the last penalty corner, Song Yi’s brilliant attempt struck the cross bar to the dismay of his teammates.
Putting the Pakistan defence under pressure, Cui Yongxin and Lu Fenghui combined efforts nearly paid dividends. However, goalkeeper Imran Shah, who was preferred over seasoned Salman Akbar took the try on the pads.
The second match of the series will be on Thursday at the same venue and next test matches will be played at Faisalabad (December 24) and Lahore (December 25).