Ipoh: Pakistan scraped past Malaysia 3-2 in their last round-robin league match to enter the final of the Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Ipoh on Saturday. By virtue of this win, Pakistan finished their league engagements with 12 points from six matches to occupy the second position behind Australia, who are assured of the top spot with 13 points with a game against New Zealand still to be played.
Pakistan will now take on world champions Australia in the summit clash of the seven-team tournament on Sunday.
Pakistan's passage to the final was made easy after South Korea dashed Great Britain's final hopes with a 3-1 victory in another round-robin league earlier in the day.
Against the hosts, Pakistan made the first strike in the eighth minute through ace penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas, who sent a rasping drag-flick into the net.
Muhammad Waqas made it 2-0 with a stinging drive from top of the circle in the 21st minute. Malaysia, however, struck back in the last minute of the first session when Hafifihafiz Hanafi picked up a through ball in the goalmouth and sent a reverse hit past goalkeeper Imran Shah to go into the breather trailing by a goal.
Malaysia pressed hard after the interval, forcing two penalty corners but failed to capitalise on them.
Shakeel Abbasi then made the scoreline 3-1 in favour of Pakistan in the 51st minute after he was set up by Muhammad Zubair, who dived across to stop a long shot going over the goalline and directed it toward Abbasi to drive home.
But Malaysia came back strongly as Muhammad Razie send a firm drive into the boards to make it 2-3.
From there on, the Malaysians pressed hard but failed to breach the Pakistan defence.
Malaysia were even awarded a penalty stroke in the 66th minute, but the decision was changed by South Korean umpire Shin Dong-Yoon after Pakistani players protested and claimed that the penalty corner shot had been cleanly deflected out.