Pak team suffers third successive defeat in Australia

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LAHORE, Nov 11 (APP):Pakistan team continued its dismal run in the 4-nation international hokey festival in Australia,
suffering its third successive defeat as New Zealand beat
them 3-2 at Melbourne’s State Netball Hockey Centre on Saturday.
After two poor defeats, Pakistan displayed a far better
brand of hockey in their last league match against New Zealand,
ranked five places higher, said the information made available here.
Australia routed Pakistan 9-1 in the opening match and
Japan added to the misery of the former world champions with a
shocking 3-1 defeat.
Green Shirts were already out of contention for the gold medal
match while Black Sticks had everything to play for. Win was
the minimum requirement to remain in contention for the final.
Twice, Pakistan went ahead via penalty corner and penalty
stroke. Each time, they conceded the equaliser via sloppy
defending. Finally, New Zealand, who had replaced the goal keeper
with an outfield player found the winner with just three
minutes left, through their only PC conversion of the day.
Pakistan had more of the possession in the first quarter.
However, New Zealand had the first penalty corner of the
day courtesy an unforced error by skipper Irfan. A good rush
resulted in a swift counter attack which culminated in the PC
at the other end.
The New Zealand goal keeper was called into action thrice in succession. Off the third rebound, Umar Bhutta, who had
injected the PC, slotted in from a close range.
If Pakistan were better during the initial 15 minutes,
New Zealand saw more of the play in the second quarter. They
equalised through an Immad Butt blunder. A New Zealand attack
saw the ball apparently well in control of Butt in the
mid circle; only to be beautifully stolen by Hayden Phillips
who then easily put it in. It was 1-1 at half time.
After the net minder, Amjad Ali effected two brilliant
saves off New Zealand’s second PC, Pakistan got a
PC off their own. The rebound hit a defender’s body on the
line resulting in a penalty stroke. Immad Butt’s fast and
well directed flick found the right inside netting of the goal.
New Zealand again made it all even within three minutes.
A long ball surprisingly reached an unmarked George Muir
well inside the circle. His first attempt was well saved by
Amjad who had closed in but Muir neatly availed the rebound.
Fast up and down stuff ensued and both the goal keepers
were called upon a few times.
The fierce battle to get the winner continued in the last
quarter and there were open play chances for either side.
Amjad made an outstanding double save to see off New Zealand’s
third PC.
Pakistan also couldn’t make their third PC count as the
two touch indirect drill failed.
New Zealand, desperately looking for the winner, now had
11 out field players. It paid as they had their fourth PC in
the 57th minute. It hit rusher’s foot but the umpire waved an
advantage. Ball reached Marcus Child near the goal, and he
first timed to get the winner (which eventually carried
them into the final).
In the last couple of minutes, Pakistan twice came close
to scoring via long balls into the scoring zone. First
Ajaz and then Umar Bhutta, failed to get their sticks on
the ball.
Scorers; Pakistan: Umar Bhutta (6′) & Immad Butt (35′)
New Zealand: Hayden Phillips (18′), George Muir (38′) and
Marcus Child (57′).
Later, Australia demolished Japan 6-1 to finish with
perfect nine points.
Tomorrow (Sunday), Australia will play New Zealand in the
final while Pakistan face Japan in the 3rd place match.