(Photo: © FIH / Gordon Morrison)

The Kiwis blended aggression and the spirit of fortitude to emerge as a deserving winner by three goals to two against Pakistan in their opening match of the five-nation competition for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at Ipoh on Monday. That New Zealand managed to comeback after trailing 1-2 at half-time exemplified their fighting qualities.

By S. Thyagarajan

Newcomer Payesh Bhana had a memorable start to his career with a goal in the early minutes. That was neutralised by Dilwar Hussain from a penalty corner. Before half-time Pakistan netted again, Imran Muhammad, making good use of a penalty corner.

Shortly after the break, New Zealand restored parity when Haig Nicholas sounded the boards. Three minutes from end, New Zealand obtained the match winner from a penalty stroke converted without a trace of fuss by Dean Cousins.

Coach Shane McLeod was quite pleased with the result and had a word of praise for Payesh Bhana being ' fresh and enthusiastic.' The Paki coach, Shahid Ali Khan offered no excuse and admitted that the performance was below par.

Malaysia luxuriated against the hard working Egypt ians in the last quarter picking up two goals through Chua Boon Huat's crafty deflections in two penalty corners to emerge winner on the second in succession with a margin of 4-1. Ismail Abu scored first for Malaysia close on half-time and Engu Malek enhanced the lead. Egypt however reduced the margin midway through from Abd El Hakeim.

Malaysia's Tai Beng Hai was happy that the strategy of cautions approach paid rich dividends in the end.

The results: New Zealand 3 ( Payesh Bhana, Haig Nicholas, Dean Couzins) beat Pakistan 2 ( Muhammad Imran 2) HT: 1-2. Malaysia  4 ( Ismail Abu, Chua Boon Huat 2) beat  Egypt 1 (Abd El Hakeim) HT 1-0

Tuesday is a rest day.