LAHORE: Pakistan junior hockey team hit back twice to hold fancied World XI to a 3-3 draw in the second and last match of the series here on Sunday at the National Hockey Stadium.
For the entertainment of a handful holiday crowd, the green shirts roared back with determination to first level at 2-2 then finally wrapping up the match at 3-3. It was a remarkable performance on part of Pak junior players who were beaten by 5-1 by the star studded World XI, a mixture of sixteen top notch players from six countries.
Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination, Riaz Hussain Pirzada was the chief guest on the occasion and both the teams were introduced to him before the start of the match. Also present on the occasion were President Pakistan Hockey Federation, Brig (retd) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar Secretary, Shahbaz Ahmad Senior and a number of former hockey Olympians and sponsors of the series.
Pak junior side struck brilliance to deny a win to the experienced World XI which mounted persistent pressure in the fourth quarter to restore edge and the home side foiled all such efforts with superb attacking skills and counter attacks. In a match, experience versus Youth, the world XI drew the lead with the 28th minute goal when Roderick Weusthof, who struck twice in the match , found with the net with a calculated shot ,two minutes before the half time before Pakistan juniors wasted as many as four shorts corners , out of total eight of the play, in direct and indirect conversion drills.
World XI forward line Roderick Weusthof, Nahuel Salis, John Escarre, Rob Reckersw and Diego Paz created a number of scoring sitter in the first half but Pakistani defence denied them any goal. Pakistani keeper Adil Rao also stood under the bar and saved scoring sitters. The main weakness of the Pak juniors was lack of coordination and planning and poor finish inside the striking circle and they wasted ideal sitters in the first half by fumbling the ball besides failure to apply proper force on the ball and timely shooting in open goal scoring chances.
On the other hand, Pakistani goalkeeper Adl Rao demonstrated agility and prowess under the bar and thwarted numerous scoring sitters of the world XI with greater anticipation. World XI tightened its grip on the match by adding their second goal, six minute into the second half when Nahuel Salis found the goalpost with an angular shot which left the goalkeeper guessing.
Two goals down, Pak junior side, made their presence felt in the ground by converting their fifth penalty corner into a goal through Rizwan Ali, one minute after World XI made it 2-2. In the 42nd minute, in a lovely right side move, Adeel Latif attempted on the goal with a forceful shot and the ball sailed into the post after a deflection of the goalkeeper.
After being 2-2 the game turned into a battle with both sides using every tactics to re-establish supremacy. It was once again the World XI which took the lead. Off their second short corner of the play in the 52nd minute, Roderick gave no time to Pakistani goalkeepers and a host of defenders to make any move with a superb push as the ball swiftly landed inside the post.
Six minutes later, engineered a fine field move and Naveed Alam stood firm after rival goalkeeper defied his first attempt and with his second resolute effort he put the goal in to lock the score at 3-3 amid applause from the crowd and the team mater.
Later, the chief guest, Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada along with and sponsors of the two match series distributed prizes among the players. He gave the winning trophy to the World IX captain Roderick.