Photo Credits: ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

Some of the best yesteryear stars of world hockey in action, the young and sprightly team from Pakistan enthralling the home crowd, and a mix of music and entertainment… these scenes at Karachi’s Abdul Sattar Edhi Stadium made for a perfect Friday evening as a World XI team, led by Holland’s Roderick Weusthof, defeated Pakistan XI 5-1 in the first of the two-match exhibition series.

Named the World XI and Hall of Fame tour to Pakistan, the series marks a return of hockey to Pakistan as the crowds enjoyed some fast-paced action and cheered for their Under-18 players as they put up a strong show against the World XI.

Said Phil Burrows of New Zealand, who turned out for World XI,

“It was a fantastic opportunity to play in Karachi tonight. The Pakistan team showed great fight out there and although the scoreline got away from them, I felt at any moment they could score.We expect a different game on Sunday as they would have learnt plenty from tonight’s match and will come out fired up.”

Pakistan XI’s Adeel Latif scored in the sixth minute much to the crowd’s delight and the home team held on to the lead in the first two quarters.

In Grant Schubert of Australia, Spain’s Santi Freixa and Juan Escarre, Phil Burrows of the New Zealand and the Netherlands’ Rob Reckers, the World XI was swelling with experience but it took them some time to get going.

The World XI though turned things around in the last two quarters scoring through skipper Roderick Weusthof (33’, 36th’) who put them in the lead. Schubert, Phillip Meulenbroek and David Alegre scored late in the game to make it a 5-1 scoreline.

Said Weusthof after the match, “Pakistan played really well especially in the first quarter. We (kept) thinking, ‘what’s going on?’ because they were fast and skillful and once we were behind, they played really well.

“We enjoyed here. It was a nice game for the crowd and I think Pakistan will learn something from this,” added the Holland player, who last played in Pakistan in the 2004 Champions Trophy.

“We are feeling safe… everything is organized very well. If you do this for every country then there’ll be better and better teams,” he said.

Spanish striker Freixa said he enjoyed the outing.

Tonight we enjoyed a lot in Karachi. (It was) a good performance against Pakistan 5-1,” Freixa said.

The teams will fly to Lahore on Saturday and play the second and final match at Lahore’s National Hockey Stadium at 2:30 pm


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