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Pakistan, Australia in thrilling draw
January 15, 2004 17:20 IST
Last Updated: January 15, 2004 19:01 IST
Pakistan survived a strong fightback from Australia to draw 2-2 and finish unbeaten in the league stage in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
The draw assured Pakistan, with 14 points, the top spot in the league.
The solitary point Australia got from the match took their points tally to eight from five matches and kept them in the running for a place in the final against Pakistan.
They have to beat Germany, who have ten points, in their concluding match on Friday to make the summit clash. The Germans need only a draw.
Knowing that defeat would put them out of the running, the Aussies went into the match in full throttle. They forged ahead in the 13th minute from their first penalty-corner when Liam de Young scored from a neat, indirect variation after goalkeeper Ahmad Alam had blocked Troy Elder's hit form the top of the circle.
Pakistan tried hard but had to wait till two minutes after the change of ends to restore parity. Sohail Abbas flicked home from the team's fifth penalty-corner to take his goal tally in the tournament to eight. It was the drag flick ace's only conversion from the eight penalty-corners Pakistan forced.
Saleem Khalid made it 2-1 for Pakistan in the 51st minute after Australian goalkeeper Mark Hickman, who had a fine match, conceded a soft goal, miskicking the ball following Khalid's feeble shot.
But three minutes later Michael Boyce scored with a stiff reverse hot from the top of the circtel to level the scores.
Both teams strived hard for the winner, but Hickman, in the Aussie goal, and Ahmad Alam, for Pakistan, came up with some smart saves.