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GOLD COAST: Pakistan hockey players thwart Malaysia’s scoring attempt in a crucial stage of their match at the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.
GOLD COAST: Pakistan hockey players thwart Malaysia’s scoring attempt in a crucial stage of their match at the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.

GOLD COAST: Pakistan hockey team played yet another draw, their fourth in the Commonwealth Games, against Malaysia here on Wednesday as both teams went out of semi-final contention at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre. The score was 1-1.

Pakistan will now play the 7th/8th position match on Friday.

There was a lot at stake when Pakistan and Malaysia came across in their last pool game on Wednesday. Pakistan needed to win the game in order to make it for the fifth place in the game while for Malaysia a draw was enough.

In the end, both teams finished with equal points. As per the tournament rules, the side with more wins finished ahead. Pakistan drew all the four matches while Malaysia had one win.

Meanwhile, Secretary Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), Mohammad Shahbaz Senior in an interview with Radio Pakistan said that Pakistan team’s overall performance in the event had been satisfactory.

He said that in the matches against India and England, Pakistani players showed fine hockey and came back strongly to draw both the tough matches which, he said, was encouraging. “It is after a long time that Pakistan team showed tremendous fighting spirit,” said Shahabaz.

“The credit for that goes mainly to the newly-appointed Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans who has infused a new spirit in the team and the players are responding wonderfully to his coaching,” he added.

In the match, Malaysia called the early shots. A steal in Pakistan half left goalkeeper Imran Butt with no option but to rush out of the 23-metre to thwart the danger. It cost him yellow card. Replacement Mazhar Abbas was called to make two outstanding saves in his five minute appearance on the pitch.

Pakistan managed to settle down and were certainly the better side during the rest of the first half. In the ninth minute, after some delightful short passes, a scoop reached Shafqat Rasool who was standing unmarked near the right post. Showing presence of mind and agility, he quickly flicked it into the cage to make it 1-0 for Pakistan.

In the second quarter, the two sides got a couple of back-to-back penalty corners but to no avail. Dilber had the best open play opportunity when he had the goal at his mercy as the Malaysian goalie had left the post but the try was poor.

At the half time Pakistan was leading by one goal.

The Greenshirts rushed out of the blocks after the change of the sides and had a penalty corner in the first minute but the variation did not click. After some exciting tussle in the middle by forwards of the two sides, Malaysia tested goalie Imran Butt who was in a good position to stop their attack.

In the 39th minute, Fitri Sari putting together a magnificent dribbling run, sent a parallel reverse ball in the path of Ramadan Rosli from deep inside circle’s left. The latter then dived to complete a memorable goal.

First minute of the fourth quarter saw Pakistan wasting another penalty corner. Soon afterwards Malaysia, too, could not make most of the two back-to-back penalty corners coming its way.

With less than three minutes left, Pakistan head coach Oltmans replaced the goalkeeper with an outfield player.

There was some high drama as Pakistan obtained two back-to-back penalty corners in the penultimate minute but the Malaysian net minder Hairi Abdul Rahman anticipated well each time to squander the opposition hopes.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2018