Four-time champions Pakistan produced a lion-hearted performance before going down 0-1 to Olympic bronze medallist Germany in their opening Pool D match of the 2018 Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
It is a creditable result for Pakistan considering the fact that the nation did not have a great build up to the tournament.
There were doubts over Pakistan's participation due to lack of funds and only a last minute sponsorship deal made it possible for them to make the trip.
One of the most celebrated teams of yesteryears, Pakistan hockey has been on a decline over the last few decades and they also suffer from lack of exposure.
Currently ranked world No. 13, Pakistan gave a tough fight to the world No. 6 Germans by holding them till the 36th minute.
The only goal of the match was scored by Germany's Marco Miltkau in the 36th minute.
With Pakistan in action, it was a highly-anticipated encounter for the hockey fans of the city, especially after the neighbour's indecent behaviour during the 2014 Champions Trophy.
ut the crowd behaved in a mature way, supporting the good moves of both the teams.
It was all about defending for Pakistan in the first two quarters and they did that stoutly, denying the little chances Germany created in the opening 30 minutes.
Germans used both the flanks to create opportunities but Pakistan meant business and fought valiantly to keep a clean slate.
Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt came to his side's rescue on two occasions, the notable between them was the first chance created by the Germans in the third minute when he kept out Benedikt Furk's neat deflection from Christopher Ruhr's pass.
Pakistan fought valiantly to keep a clean slate at the halfway mark.
But after the change of ends, the match opened up with both the teams going on the offensive.
It was Germany who finally broke the shackles six minutes after the break when Miltkau pushed in Niklas Wellen's deflection past an onrushing Imran Butt.
If the first half was a damper in terms of attacks, the Pakistanis created bright chances in the last two quarters.
Pakistan's first real chance came in the 38th minute when Muhammad Zubair deflected wide a pass from Ammad Butt.
The match produced just one penalty corner which went to Germany in the 41st minute but it did not make any difference.
Minutes later the Germans came close once again when Wellen's shot from inside the circle went just wide.
Six minutes from the final hooter, Miltkau found the net again but Pakistan protested the goal and asked for video referral which suggested that the ball got in after getting a deflection from the German striker's legs. The goal was disallowed.
Thereafter, Pakistan pressed hard in search of the equaliser but failed to create any purposeful move.
Hertzberger 'tricks' Netherlands to big win
Jeroen Hertzberger scored a hat-trick to help last edition silver medallist Netherlands spank a hapless Malaysia 7-0 in a lopsided opening Pool D encounter at the ongoing men's hockey World Cup.
Asian Games silver medallist Malaysia, coached by legendary Dutchman Roelant Oltmans, were expected to produce a fight but world No. 4 Netherlands turned out to be a much superior opponent.
Besides Hertzberger (11th, 29th, 60th minutes), Mirco Pruijser (21st), Mink van der Weerden (35th), Robbert Kemperman and Thierry Brinkman (57th) were the other goal scorers for the three-time champions.
The Dutch, who are eyeing a fourth World Cup title, turned out to be too hot for Malaysia to handle as they toyed with the opposition defence and scored goals at will on a miserable night for their Asian rival.
The Netherlands created chances at will and if not for the veteran Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam's heroics, the margin of defeat could have been bigger for the Asian side.
Subramaniam hardly got any help from his defenders and was forced to make numerous saves.
It was a horrendous display from the Malaysians in all departments of the game. There was hardly any co-ordination between their defenders, midfielders and forwards, which helped the Dutch to snatch the ball whenever they wanted, before going for the kill.
The gap in quality between the two sides can be gauged from the fact that Netherlands had 29 shots at the goal as against Malaysia's just three.
Placed in the 'pool of death' because of the presence of three former champions in Netherlands, Germany and Pakistan, it could be a herculean task for a demolarised Malaysia to make a comeback in the tournament after Saturday's heavy defeat.
Malaysia will next play Pakistan on December 5, while Netherlands will be up against Germany.