China and Pakistan each won one match in the test series between the men’s teams of the two countries. China was stronger in the opening match (4-2), while Pakistan won the second one 2-0.
Pakistan were jolted when Asian Silver Medalist China defeated Pakistan 4-2 in the opening Test in the Five Test match series at Changzhou.
Pakistan didn’t play up to their potential in spite of the fact that center half Muhammad Saqlain had given the visitors lead in the third minute of the first half from a penalty corner melee. China took advantage of Pakistan’s defensive blunders. Left half Kamran fumbled in his own vulnerable area allowing the fast moving Chinese forwards to penetrate in Pakistan’s striking circle hammering the equalizer. Another fatal mistake from deep defender Muhammad Ateeq resulted in a penalty corner which the Chinese converted with an immaculate precision and the Chinese led 2-1 at half time.
Pakistan could never put their act together as the proceedings resumed while the Chinese succeeded in stretching the lead soon after with another penalty corner conversion. Briefly Pakistan did counter attacked and there were some good moves with Rehan Butt playing a pivotal role but their efforts were scuttled down by the dour Chinese defense.
China launched an offensive mid-way through this period and their forwards put the issue beyond Pakistan’s reach with a fine field goal. Pakistan did reduce the deficit with field goal from Waqas Sharif in the dying moments of the match.
“It’s a bad defeat, “Chief Coach Khwaja Zakauddin said, “We had taken the lead but two fatal mistakes changed the scenario of the contest. There were some good moves in the second period but we failed to capitalize.”
Zaka praised the performance of goalkeeper Salman Akbar saying, “Salman played good under the bar but it were the defenders who didn’t gave a good account of themselves. Zeeshan Ashraf and right half Irfan played well but overall the defense was not good.”
The Chief Coach was equally critical of the frontline saying, “The forwards didn’t perform as was expected. Experienced Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi should have done better but they missed a couple of easy chances.”
Pakistan beat China convincingly 2-0 in the second Test match to bring the two sides one Test apiece at Changzhou.
Pakistan put up a far better performance in this encounter than in the first Test which they had lost 4-2. Playing with grit and gumption, Pakistan didn’t allow the Chinese to run through their gaps which the home side had used with dead accuracy in the first encounter.
Pakistan’s frontline was more coordinated and the forays were the result of well contrived moves. Pakistan shot into lead in the 7th minute when forward Waqas Sharif, after collecting a cross from the left flank, sounded the boards with a stinging shot.
Pakistan led 1-0 at half time.
Chinese came back strongly in the second period but Pakistan defense comprising of Zeeshan Ashraf, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Irfan and center half Muhammad Saqlain kept them at bay. Pakistan doubled the lead in the 60th minute when deep defender Muhammad Atiq, substituted for Muhammad Imran, fiercely drove the ball low in the 60th minute penalty corner.
An elated and relieved Pakistan’s Chief Coach Khwaja Zakauddin said, “the boys showed lot of guts in this match. We had made some changes in our lineup. Rehan Butt was inducted as inside right while Shakeel Abbasi was given the task of the striker.”
Zaka had word of praise for center half Muhammad Saqlain, “He really played excellent, held his position well and was chiefly instrumental in launching attacks. Equally both the wing halves Muhammad Irfan and Fareed did excellent job. In forwards Zubair and Abbas Haider did a yeoman’s service. This victory has given confidence to the players and we are confident to play better in the coming Tests.
Source: Pakistan Hockey Federation
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