Asian Games’ champions Pakistan ended a four-match losing streak to archrivals India, as they registered a resounding comeback to win the all-important Azlan Shah Cup encounter 3-1.
India were the better side in the first-half and took a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute before Pakistan found their rhythm after the interval to score three goals and collect full points.
A jubilant Pakistan team manager Khawaja Junaid gave credit to the team’s superb second-half show for the win.
“The second-half made all the difference,” said Junaid. “We went at them all the way. At the same time, we didn’t allow them to play their game and kept them pinned down. What also helped is that we kept our emotions in check for the game.”
A resurgent Pakistan now have nine points and are third in the table behind leaders Australia, who have 10 points, and Great Britain, also on nine.
India began the match in an aggressive mode courtesy Rupinder Pal Singh, who continued his fine form in the tournament, opening the scoring with a 22nd-minute penalty corner to take his tally of goals to six in the tournament.
However, Pakistan roared back courtesy Muhammad Zubair in the 49th minute and then Muhammad Imran netted the second off a penalty corner in the 55th minute to put his side ahead.
Sohail Abbas sealed an emotional victory against the old rivals two minutes later.
Earlier, Australia lived up to their billing as the world’s leading team with a well-crafted 4-2 victory over South Korea.
Australia coach Ric Charlesworth, however, felt that his team was still rusty despite the win.
His side dominated the first-half, taking a 3-1 lead. Timothy Deavin scored in the eighth minute from a field effort, followed by Mark Paterson in the 12th minute and Glenn Turner in the 34th minute.
The Koreans reduced the deficit in the 15th minute through You Hyo-Sik but rarely threatened thereafter.
In the second half, they pulled a goal back in the 39th minute through Hyun Hya-Sung from a field attempt.
But despite the Koreans pushing hard for the equaliser, the Australians slotted another goal in the 63rd minute through Paterson for a convincing win.
New Zealand beat Malaysia
Meanwhile, New Zealand bagged a last-minute 3-2 win over hapless Malaysia to earn their first victory. Coach Shane McLeod said he hoped it would give his side vital impetus for tough games against India and old Australia.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2011.
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