Asia's mega hockey event, the Hero Asia Cup 2017, got underway on the blue turf of Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium Wednesday with Bangladesh conceding a 7-0 defeat against Pakistan while India made a flying start with 5-1 win over Japan.
The opening match of Pool A between India and Japan marked the return of Asia's most prestigious hockey tournament in Dhaka after more than three decades as the former found it easy to salvage three points.
The home side, who never managed to score against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, continued their struggle against the three-time World and Asia champion. Pakistan forward Abu Mahmood scored three goals while Shakeel Ahmed Butt and Muhammad Arslan Qadir added a brace each.
Bangladesh made a decent start and put up a better performance in the first two quarters, compared to the last two quarters where they conceded six goals. The opening quarter ended goalless thanks to goalkeeper Asim Gope's two lovely saves at the beginning.
"We started well. The second quarter was also good but the game went out of our control from the third quarter due to our silly mistakes. We failed to play with short pass and control ball possession and gifted them the goals. If you make mistakes in such an international match it's tough to recover," said Bangladesh captain Russel Mahmud Jimmy after the game.
Pakistan earned their first penalty corner two minutes into the second quarter and Abu took the lead in the 18th minute from their second penalty corner. Muhammad Rizwan dragged the ball for Tasawar to stop before Abu smashed home with a piercing shot that sneaked through the net.
Bangladesh continued their fight for the equaliser as Jimmy created the host’s best chance of the game in the 27th minute. Receiving a pass from midfield, Jimmy outpaced his marker to break into the box before taking a scoop that hit the post.
Pakistan made a few changes after the first half, replacing junior players with the experienced ones after which they looked more attacking, enjoying more ball possession. Bangladesh's major weakness, that was evident throughout the game, was their inability to control midfield.
Butt doubled the lead three minutes into the third quarter from a penalty stroke after Mamunur Rahman Chayan made a foul at the centre of the d-box. Qadir scored again moments later connecting a cross from Ali Shan. The visitor extended the lead from a penalty corner after Abu hit the back of the net following Umar Bhutta's drag. Butt netted his second two minutes into the final quarter with a solo effort before Abu scored his third goal in the 50th minute from another penalty corner. Qadir sealed the last goal of the game in the final minute with a reverse hit from the edge of the d-box.
Bangladesh will take on India in their second Pool A match Friday while Pakistan play Japan in the other game of the day; both matches taking place at Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium.
(Sunil 3, Lalit 23, Ramandeep 32, Harmanpreet 31, 48) 1 Japan
Bangladesh 0 7 Pakistan
(Abu 18, 37, 50, Butt 33, 47, Qadir 35, 60)