WELLINGTON (PPI): Representing national senior team for the first time, young Abubakr Mahmood fired a brilliant hat-trick to help Pakistan overpower New Zealand 4-2 in the third test of the five-match series here at Wellington's National Hockey Stadium.
Despite New Zealand was playing at its own backyard and more importantly the host is ranked six places higher, but the men in green tamed the side to level five-match series 1-1 after three encounters. The match began with New Zealand entering Pakistan's circle a few times. Off a fierce tomahawk, Pakistani goal keeper Amjad made an exceptional save with out-stretched right hand. Thereafter, Pakistan had better off the exchanges for most of the first half. They combined well and repeatedly entered opponents' 23 metre area and chances arrived. Off the second penalty corner, captain Haseem Khan put his side ahead with a well executed indirect drill.
At half time, Pakistan was leading the match 1-0. Just minutes into the second half, Pakistan doubled the advantage via another penalty corner. Abubakr's superb low drag flick found the right corner of the goal. The third goal in the 35th minute off the fifth penalty corner was almost an exact replica of the previous one as Abubakr again managed to convert it successfully. Down by three goals, the hosts applied tremendous pressure in the last 10 minutes of the third quarter. They created many opportunities. A few were squandered while Amjad under the bar also had a great day.
The persistence paid off as New Zealand pulled one in the second penalty corner in 45th minute. Cory Bennett sent an unstoppable flick high into the roof. After seeing off early New Zealand pressure in the last quarter, including two penalty corners, the green shirts got a penalty corner of their own. Brilliant Abubakr completed his hat trick. This time off a ripper sent high to the left side of the net.
Trailing1-4 with just seven minutes left, black sticks continued to search for goals. After wasting a penalty corner, they finally added another goal when Stephend Jennes sent a scorcher via an upright reverse in the last minute to save the home team's blushes. The wo teams will meet again on Wednesday.