KARACHI: Pakistan cruised into the semi-finals of Asian Games hockey after defeating Bangladesh 6-1 courtesy a brace each by the experienced trio of Shakeel Abbasi, Sohail Abbas and Mohammad Imran.
Needing a win to ensure a place in the last-four following the 3-2 loss against India, Pakistan exemplified fine discipline to outclass their opponents with a clear-cut margin. Ace striker Abbasi put Pakistan ahead in the 13th minute with a flawless reverse flick. Abbas doubled the lead two minutes later off a penalty corner. Abbasi dodged three defenders and added another in the 27th-minute and two minutes later Abbas completed his brace through another short corner as Pakistan led 4-0 at half time.
Pakistan vice-captain Mohammad Imran stole the limelight in the second half and converted two penalty corners to secure a 6-0 lead for his side. Bangladesh, however, got a consolation goal from Taposh Barmon seven minutes before the final hooter went off.
Pakistan, finishing second in their Group B behind India, are expected to meet defending champions South Korea tomorrow for a place in the final. The second semi-final will be held between India and Malaysia.
“Korea is a top Asian side and we would have to give our best against them,” Pakistan manager Khawaja Junaid told The Express Tribune. “We’ll have to avail our chances in order to win that match.”
Atlas loses squash final, bags silver
Aamir Atlas had to find solace in a silver medal after he was downed by Malaysia’s Mohammad Azlan Iskandar in the men’s squash final in straight games. Atlas, who shocked defending champion Ong Beng Hee, had to face tough competition by Iskandar, who left no room for error as he ousted Atlas 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 in just 39 minutes.
“I’m happy to secure at least a silver medal for my country as it came after a long time,” said a content Atlas after losing the final. “This performance will give me a lot of confidence ahead of my future assignments.”
Ninth position volleyball play-off
Pakistan overcame Kuwait in straight games 27-25, 25-21, 25-21 in the volleyball event. The team will play its last match in a ninth-tenth position classification match tomorrow.
Boisterous welcome for women cricketers
Pakistan women’s team that won the event’s first-ever cricket gold got a rousing welcome on their return. Dozens of fans, friends and family members, besides few officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board, gathered at the airport to receive the victorious side which outclassed Bangladesh in the final.
Meanwhile, Pakistan men’s cricket team will start their campaign against China today. A victory against the hosts will ensure their place in the semi-finals.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2010.