KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia earned their first point in the Samsung Champions Trophy when they fought back from a two-goal deficit to snatch a 2-2 draw with Pakistan at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Malaysia, who lost their first three matches to Australia, Holland and Britain, looked to be heading for another miserable day when they trooped off at half-time 0-2 down.
Pakistan went ahead through Akhtar Ali in the 19th minute before Ghazanfar Ali added the second in the 34th minute.
Malaysia reduced the deficit through Chua Boon Huat in the 54th minute before Jiwa Mohan grabbed the equaliser in the 64th minute.
National coach Sarjit Singh was happy with his men’s performance and felt that there was improvement in the team.
“This is a learning experience for us and we need to stick with that objective,” said Sarjit.
“Today’s game could have gone either way. I think we had the better of the second-half and deserved the draw.”
This is the third time that the two teams have played to a draw.
In the Asia Cup in August, Malaysia also took advantage of Pakistan's late collapse to gain a point in Chennai. Then, Pakistan were leading 3-0 before Malaysia hit back for a 3-3 draw.
In May, the teams drew 2-2 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Yesterday, Malaysia failed to raise their game, although they did get a penalty corner as early as the sixth minute. That, however, came to nought.
Pakistan slowly cranked up their game and it was no surprise when they shot into the lead after 19 minutes. Ghazanfar sent in a cross from the right and Akhtar was there to connect it home.
Pakistan dominated the game and sounded the board again in the 34th minute, with Ghazanfar scoring off a penalty corner set-piece move.
Malaysia came back after the breather a different team, keeping the Pakistani team at bay with their attacking play.
Their positive display paid off in the 54th minute. Off their fourth penalty corner, Baljit relayed the ball to Boon Huat and the forward flicked the ball high past Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akhbar.
Malaysia had the ball in the net again in the 61st minute but umpire Satinder Singh disallowed the goal after consulting the video umpire.
Undaunted, Malaysia kept pressing and were rewarded with the equaliser in the 64th minute when Jiwa slotted the ball past Salman off a free hit.
South Korea scored a major upset when they thrashed European champions Holland 6-2.
“We played okay in the first-half but the players could not recover from fatigue in the second,” said Dutch coach Roelant Oltmants.
South Korea coach Cho Sung-jun was elated with the win and said it was a fantastic result for the side as they had also beaten the Dutch 3-2 at last year’s World Cup in Germany.
World number one and reigning Olympic champions Australia kept themselves in the chase for a place in the final when they edged arch-rivals Britain 1-0.
World champions Germany remained the only unbeaten team in the tournament with a stylish 4-1 rout of Spain.