Hockey: Shahbaz propels Pakistan to final

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The Independent Online
PAKISTAN yesterday thrilled the 45,000 crowd in the national stadium here as they outclassed the champions, Australia, to reach the final of the Champions' Trophy. Their 2-0 win, which ended Australia's challenge, was orchestrated by their outstanding player, Shahbaz Ahmed.

In a victory built on superb defence, something not always typical of their play, Pakistan were always in control. Their tactics were to soak up pressure and then counter-attack.

It was from such a move that Pakistan scored in the 31st minute. After a bad miss by Australia's Paul Lewis, the ball was switched to Kamran Ashraf who was checked following a powerful run. The ball broke to Shahbaz, who scored.

Pakistan's second goal, 13 minutes after the interval, came at a penalty corner. Rana Mujahid's shot was scrambled away by the Australian defence, only for Tahir Zaman to drive it home through a ruck of players.

There was still time for Australia to force three penalty corners, bringing their tally to seven, all of which were defended resolutely. The Australians, who never gave up, were given a tremendous ovation by the vast crowd.

An injury-free British team spent the day relaxing and planning for today's game against Spain. The experiment of playing Russell Garcia, who scored four times against Australia on Sunday, at centre-forward will be continued. Garcia, who is the player-coach for Polo Barcelona, is respected and feared by the Spanish, who have problems with injuries and sickness.