Hosts Malaysia hold defending champions New Zealand 3-3 in Azlan Shah Cup
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Ipoh (Malaysia): Hosts Malaysia produced a spirited performance to hold defending champions New Zealand to a 3-3 draw in their opening match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Wednesday.
Three Malaysian players, including captain Razie Rahim, got up from their bed to score a goal each in the home team's fighting 3-3 draw.
Down with flu for the past three days, the three players were considered non-starters and reserves on Tuesday were summoned to Ipoh, but these senior players - skipper Razie, Firhan Ansari and Shahril Saabah - insisted on playing.
Firhan opened the scoring for Malaysia by capitalising on a diagonal ball from Azhan Hasan in the 15th minute.
Ansari's first shy was blocked by Black Sticks goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex but he picked the ball off the custodian's pads to scoop it into the goal.
Nick Wilson then scored two identical field goals in the 22nd and 34th minutes, going past a couple of Malaysian defenders on each occasion.
Captain Razie sent a soaring penalty corner into the net to bring Malaysia to 2-2 parity in the 44th minute.
Four minutes later, Shahril shot on target during a penalty corner melee to raise prospects of a Malaysian victory.
It was a chance they hung on to while defending a series of penalty corners five minutes before the hooter.
New Zealand wasted six consecutive penalty corners as the Malaysian defence stood their ground before Simon Child's flick eventually earned the equaliser for the Black Sticks.
Earlier, former champions India and Pakistan posted narrow wins on the opening day of the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Asian Games winners India overcame a stiff Japanese challenge 2-1, while Pakistan prevailed 3-1 against Canada.
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