India go down fighting to Pakistan
Three-time champions Pakistan survived a late Indian charge to score a 3-2 victory and virtually assure themselves a place in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
Pakistan fired on all cylinders as their strikers exhibited flair and fluency coupled with supreme athleticism to ring circles around the Indian defence and take commanding 3-0 lead in the first session.
But the Indians fought back gamely in the second period, scoring two goals and missing a penalty-stroke, to redeem themselves and give the scoreline some respectability.
Pakistan earned three penalty corners in the first half, taking the lead from the second in the 8th minute when forward Adnan Zakir deflected a soft Mohd. Imran flick.
The Indians looked jaded and disjointed and had hardly a noteworthy attack. There was no teamwork as most players put in individualist efforts.
Pakistan went further ahead in the 11th minute as skipper Dilip Tirkey and Aiyappa were caught in no-man's land with unmarked Rehan Butt taping in a Shabbir set up.
The Indians tried in vain to reduce the margin as Prabhjot Singh was found wanting on two occasions, first missing a sitter and then finishing meekly for an easy save by Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar.
Inside forward Deepak Thakur also muffed an easy chance to reduce the margin, shooting wide from a Rajpal cross.
Pakistan, breathing down heavily on their rivals neck, got their third goal in the 29th minute when Akhtar Ali drew goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan out and then neatly angled it past him.
After half time, Pakistan looked as if they had lost their sheen a bit as relaxation tendencies crept into their play. India, during this period, struck their golden patch of the game, first getting a penalty-stroke in the 37th minute.
However, to the disappointment of the big crowd support, Arjun Halappa hit the upright to keep the Pakistan lead intact.
It was Deepak Thakur who reduced the margin to 3-1 after he hit home from India's third penalty-corner.
Propelled by this success, India's attack eventually found some rhythm as Pakistan faltered with unforced errors from defenders Zeeshan Ashraf and Mohd Imran as they conceded four penalty-corners in the last session.
India, for the first time, seemed to have the upper hand and scored their second goal in the 53rd minute when Sandeep Michael deflected an Ignace Tirkey cross.
Pakistan are now on the brink of playing the final, having collected 13 points so far. They only need a draw in their last fixture against hosts Malaysia on Friday to go through to Sunday's final.
Australia swamp South Africa
Title aspirants and holders Australia took a step closer to the final, scoring a fluent 8-3 victory over bottom-placed South Africa in their penultimate league game in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The Olympic champions, who led 5-1 at the break, scored through Jamie Dwyer (2) and El Matheson, Robert Hammond, Travis Brooks, Michael McCann, Grant Schubert and Brent Livermore.
The South African goal scorers were Emile Smith, John McInroy and Ricky Gay.
The Aussies, unbeaten in the competition, but have drawn against South Korea and Pakistan, played with a game plan, focusing on scoring as many goals as possible just in case of being stuck on an equal number of points with some other team after the first stage.
Their swift attack moved clinically on either flank and the constant switching of positions had the South Africans caught on the wrong foot.
Australia have eleven points from five outings and will play India in their last league match on Friday.
Malaysia go down tamely
by New Straits Times
It was an expected outcome from the first whistle as a tame Malaysia went down 3-1 to New Zealand.
New Zealand needed only two minutes to take the lead when a listless effort from Philips Burrows ripped through the entire Malaysian defence. Malaysia needed 41 minutes to find the equaliser when S. Kuhan was on target off a penalty corner. But that was it, as New Zealand scored two more goals through Blair Hopping (49th) and Bryce Collin (56th) to move up to fourth in the standings.
New Zealand 7pts
South Africa 1pt
Thursday 26 May
India 2 defeated South Africa 1
Australia 3 defeated Malaysia 1
Pakistan 2 defeated New Zealand 1
Friday 27 May
Australia 3 drew Korea 3
New Zealand 2 drew India 2
Malaysia 1 drew South Africa 1
Saturday 28 May
Pakistan 3 defeated Korea 2
Sunday 29 May
Malaysia 4 defeated India 1
Pakistan 2 defeated South Africa 0
Australia 2 defeated New Zealand 1
Monday 30 May
Korea 4 defeated Malaysia 0
New Zealand 2 defeated South Africa 0
Tuesday 31 May
Pakistan 2 drew Australia 2
Korea 4 defeated India 1
Wednesday 1 June
Australia 8 defeated South Africa 3
New Zealand 3 defeated Malaysia 1
Pakistan 3 defeated India 2
Korea v New Zealand, 1.35pm
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