It was a match between Pakistan versus hosts Bangladesh which enthralled the local audience on the opening day of the Hero Asia Cup here at the Maulana Bhashani National Stadium on Wednesday.
Abu Mahmood was the hero of the match with three scintillating goals in the 18th, 41st and 50th minute which helped Pakistan seal their opening match of the tournament.
It was Pakistan who were quick to get off the block and put the hosts on a back foot when they won a penalty corner in the first quarter of the match. But it was well defended by the Bangladeshi goalkeeper Asim Gope.
The second quarter saw Pakistan win another penalty corner in the 17th minute, but a poorly executed variation saw Bangladeshi defenders push the ball away.
Pakistan won yet another penalty corner almost immediately and this time Abu Mahmood was impeccable in his dragflick to put the ball past Gope in the 18th minute to fetch Pakistan a 1-0 lead.
With a little over seven minutes remaining for the second hooter, Bangladesh missed a brilliant opportunity when skipper Rashel Mahmud assisted Milon Hossain to take a shot on goal but unfortunately the later couldn’t connect the ball.
Hossain missed another fantastic opportunity to equalise when he made an accelerating run from midfield, penetrating the circle to take a shot on goal but his fiercely-struck ball went too far left of the post.
Post the ten-minute halftime, Pakistan took complete control of the match when they scored back-to-back goals in the 33rd minute. First, it was Shakeel Ammad Butt who found the top net to beat Gope in a penalty stroke to take a 2-0 lead.
This was followed by a scintillating counter-attack by Pakistan that set a splendid field goal by Arslan Mohammad Qadir to take Pakistan’s score to a comfortable 3-0.
The final quarter saw Bangladesh push desperately for goals but Pakistan stayed on top of their game with 64 per cent ball possession. Pakistan enhanced their lead with another successful penalty corner well-converted by Abu Mahmood in the 41st minute. In the 47th minute Shakeel Ammad Butt showcased excellent dribbling abilities to penetrate the circle and take a successful shot on goal to take his team’s lead to a formidable 5-0.
Abu Mahmood took this lead to 6-0 with his third goal of the match in the 50th minute when he converted a penalty corner. Arslan Mohammad Qadir added to his team’s goal-fest with a 60th-minute field goal that helped Pakistan walk away with the winning points.—Agencies