LAHORE: Demonstrating determination, Pakistan U-18 team hit back twice to hold fancied World XI to an exciting 3-3 draw in the second and last match of the series here at the National Hockey Stadium on Sunday.
The result of the match however ended the landmark two-game series in a 1-0 victory for the tourists. On Friday night, the World XI side won the series opener 5-1 at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium in Karachi.
The home youngsters roared back with determination to first level at 2-2 before squaring it again 3-3 against a World XI comprising players from six countries.
Pakistan U-18s — exhibiting a much improved show than they produced in the first match — denied the World XI a win which mounted pressure on the tourists in the fourth quarter to restore the edge but the home side foiled all such efforts with some superb defence and counterattacks.
The World XI took lead with a 28th minute goal when Roderick Weusthof, who struck twice in the match, found the net with a calculated shot. Before half time Pakistan juniors wasted four short corners, out of the total of eight, in direct and indirect conversion chances.
Pakistan U-18 goalkeeper Adil Rao demonstrated his agility and prowess thwarting numerous scoring efforts made by the World XI.
World XI tightened their grip on the match by adding their second goal, six minute into the second half when Nahuel Salis found the goalpost with an angular shot which left the goalkeeper guessing.
Two goals down, the home side made their presence felt converting their fifth penalty corner through Rizwan Ali, a minute after World XI made it 2-1.
On the 42nd minute, in a lovely right side move, Adeel Latif attempted on the goal with a forceful shot and the ball sailed into the post after a deflection of the goalkeeper.
Once again the World XI took lead. Off their second short corner in the 52nd minute, Roderick gave no time to Adil and a host of defenders to make any move with a superb push as the ball swiftly landed inside the post.
Six minutes later, Naveed Alam stood firm after rival goalkeeper defied his first attempt but with his second resolute effort he put the goal in to lock the score at 3-3.
Federal Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada, who was the chief guest on the occasion, gave the winning trophy to the World XI captain Roderick Weusthof of the Netherlands.
Pirzada said the government was taking all measures aimed at creating conducive atmosphere to hold international sports events in Pakistan.
“We are extending cooperation to the national sports federations for organising international competitions in various disciplines,” Pirzada said.
“The visit of the World XI will give a positive message to the world that Pakistan is a peace loving country and its people are sports friendly,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2018