Pakistan 1-9 Australia
MELBOURNE – Pakistan were ripped apart by hosts Australia in their opening match of the International Festival of Hockey at Melbourne’s State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday.
Blake Govers scored a hat-trick, while Melbourne boy Aaron Kleinschmidt hit a double in the comprehensive win over Pakistan, who scored their lone goal via an Abu Mahmood strike in the 32nd minute.
The 1-9 defeat is Pakistan’s worst-ever in its hockey history. Pakistan’s previous worst came when Holland defeated Pakistan 9-2 at the 2006 Champions Trophy in Terrassa, Spain. The team are a record four-time World Champions.
Australia, the reigning world champions, dominated the proceedings almost throughout the game.
Blake Govers, who scored a hat-trick, took two goals off penalty corners and a mesmerising field goal. Aaron Kleinschmidt had a brace for Australia.
The Kookaburras’ first goal came in the eighth minute, off their first penalty corner, when an excellent top of the circle drill baffled Pakistan’s defence and Hayward put his team ahead.
Within four minutes, Whetton doubled the advantage. After robbing a defender, he entered the circle from the left, immediately swerved and rattled the board.
The first half’s last goal came off a wonderful Whetton assist. His inch perfect ball from the circle’s top beat a crowded defence and Kleinschmidt easily scored from the middle of the scoring area.
In the first 30 minutes, Pakistan had just one open play attempt, when Arslan Qadir’s full stretch effort eluded the target. They also wasted one penalty corner with the score at 3-0 at the end of the first half.
Two minutes into the second half, Abubakr brought a glimmer of hope for Pakistan when his forceful flick went high into the net off Pakistan’s second penalty corner.
However, within a minute, the Aussies restored the three goal lead: Kleinschmidt had his second of the evening with a superb first time reverse-hander from the left of circle’s edge which went into the roof of the far net.
Govers made it 5-1 with a penalty corner conversion with a flat forceful push.
Though Australia had most of the exchanges in the third quarter of the game, it still was the green shirts’ best 15 minutes of the game. They had open play opportunities and a couple of penalty corners, and scored off one of them.
Pakistan’s sloppy defending seemed to be theme of the day but in the last quarter, it completely melted away and conceded four more goals.
Arunasalam dived to avail a parallel pass sent from left before Govers scored the most memorable goal of the day.
Standing on the left side of the circle, the body feinted the defence and netted the ball, finding the narrowest of the narrow gaps between the near post and the net minder, all in one movement.
Soon, a reverse shot by Govers, across the face of the goal, was well flicked into the goal by Wickham.
Govers completed the tally and also his hat-trick in the last minute when his hard low push went past goalkeeper Amjad’s left pad, off another penalty corner.
Pakistan now face Japan on Thursday before facing New Zealand on Friday. The result sets up Australia for Sunday’s gold medal match ahead of Thursday’s meeting with New Zealand and the final group game against Japan on Saturday.
Australia: Blake Govers (3), Aaron Kleinschmidt (2), Jeremy Hayward, Jake Whetton, Kiran Arunasalam, Tom Wickham
Pakistan: Abubakar Mahmood