Pakistan opens Azlan Shah campaign with win

Ipoh: Asian Games champion Pakistan launched its campaign in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament with a facile 4-2 victory over a fighting New Zealand here on Thursday.

Enjoying territorial dominance against the Black Sticks, Pakistan opened the scoring in the third minute through an opportunistic goal by Muhammad Rizwan Senior, who picked up the ball in crowded goalmouth and flicked past goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex.

Kashif Shah increased the lead for Pakistan on the first penalty corner, capitalising on a rebound after a rising drag flick from Sohail Abbas was palmed away by the New Zealand goalkeeper.

Pakistan was not able to score a single goal directly from five penalty corners shots, but their firepower in field play was enough to give them a three-goal lead in the 51st minute when Abdul Haseem Khan scored with a flash strike.

Pakistan’s defence came under pressure when the New Zealanders forced a string of penalty corners, and succeeded in scoring from its fifth penalty corner through a low drag flick by Andrew Hayward in the 59th minute.

Bhutta restores advantage

Pakistan shot back within two minutes to increase the lead again as Umar Bhutta beat the goalkeeper with a rasping shot from top of the circle to make it 4-1.

New Zealand reduced the margin in the 63rd minute on a fine counter by Hugo Inglis but it proved to be too little too late.