Pakistan’s success owed to their captain Haseem, who exhibited superb game in the role of mentor for a team, which has majority of young players. There were plenty of youngsters and uncapped players in the side. They put up a great performance.
It’s a pretty impressive hockey team with some young guys there. Youngsters performed well throughout the series especially Abu Bakar Mahmood. He was selected for the first time for Pakistan senior team and surely impressed with his match-winning performance. Goalkeeper Amjad also showed great reflex saves throughout the series. While Captain Haseem was also leading from the front as he was the leading goal scorer of the series.
New Zealand Coach Smith admitted that Pakistan were impressive throughout the series, which they won 2-1, especially through the defensive midfield players. Plenty of experience gained during this series which would help Pakistan to prepare for the Hockey World League’s semi-finals, to be held in London in June this year which are 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Presently, Pakistan’s team is at 14th position in FIH Rankings, which doesn’t suit to former four-times world champions. There was a time when Pakistan used to beat New Zealand by huge margins. However, New Zealand have overtaken us in the world of hockey as they invested in their domestic structure but we didn’t. This is the reason of the downfall of hockey in Pakistan. If PHF is sincere to the revival of hockey then PHF should start working to organize maximum tournaments, revival of U-16 and U-18 hockey at the earliest, ensuring that genuine age group players to be involved.
No doubt Pakistan did a great job by beating New Zealand in its backyard with youngsters and uncapped players in the side. However, we must not consider it as our ultimate goal. We should now focus on the Australian series. Our actual goal should be the World Cup Qualification. Green-shirts will find a tougher opponent Australia in the upcoming series. In Australia, Pakistan will play tests at Marrara Hockey Centre, Darwin on March 28, 29, 31 and April 1.