Defending champions Australia and New Zealand played out a 1-1 draw in a far from impressive encounter between the two Trans-Tasman nations in 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey tournament tonight.
Though disappointed with the result, Australian coach Colin Batch remained optimistic.
"We had seven penalty corners but could not make good use of it. The result would have been different if we had scored a couple more in the penalty corners but New Zealand defended well in the penalty corners. We don’t have any serious drag-flick specialist here and this was expected but I hope we can turn things around in the next few days," said Colin.
"Our mission is to defend the title and we will get back on track.
"As for today’s result I must say I am quite happy. Things just could have been better for us but we failed to increase the score when we were in control of the match.
There was a little pressure on the youngsters who will come out of it as this was this was their first match. I am confident we will play a much better game with good results."
The Kookaburras earned the first penalty corner two minutes into the game but Trent Mitton placed the ball straight into goalkeeper Devon Manchester who padded it away.
The World No 2 Australians, who are the highest ranked team in the tournament, had better possession of the ball in the first two quarters.
They had a total of five penalty corners coming their way but blew away each of it.
On the opposite end, New Zealand, ranked 8th in the world and Sultan Azlan Shah Cup champions here in 2012 and 2015, had the first clear opportunity to score in the 20th minute but Sam Lone muffed a clear direct shot which was saved by goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.
Australia’s long wait for a goal was celebrated in the 32nd minute when Tom Craig had the simplest of task in putting the ball past Manchester to go 1-0 ahead.
The Kookaburras came back in the third quarter to earn a sixth penalty corner through Jake Whetton from the top of the D but was disallowed by British umpire Paul Walker.
The Black Sticks could do little to change their fortunes around despite winning two penalty corners, the second in the early fourth quarter.
However, a full push in the 51st minute by the Kiwis saw the Australian defence crumble as substitute Dominic Newman made a darting shot that gave Lovell no chance at all to draw level 1-1.
With the clock ticking away, it was obvious that the Australians, who have been less impressive, and Kiwis who are here with an experimental side, are poised to share the points.
New Zealand coach Darren Smith was obviously please with the result.
"We had a few opportunities today. It was a good game overall and I was hoping we could just sneak through a goal or two in the fourth quarter," said Darren.
"But I must commend the players for the hard work in winning the equaliser.
"Overall, a 1-1 draw is acceptable judging that it was a tough match.
"Everyone had expected Australia to dominate this game but it has always been a balanced game with both teams having a fair chance of scoring and ball possession. I am happy with the overall performance of my players."
In the opening match of the day, India were held to a 2-2 draw by a Great Britain side that clawed back from being a goal down twice.
" I can learn to accept this result. Obviously playing in Malaysia we (all the teams) have to be prepared for the weather and the long delay did not affect our momentum," said Indian coach Roelant Oltmans.
"Off course I did expect both teams to play a hard game after the first quarter.
"Overall, it was our first match in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup today and a first since November. We hope to play much better in the next matches.
"My only disappointment is we did not make good use of our chances and only earned one penalty corner throughout the match. The younge players gave a good performance, including Sumit who is making his debut with the seniors. Like I said, I can accept the result as we played well overall."
Adverse weather conditions caused a two hour delay but once action got underway both teams adapted well to the heavy pitch.
Great Britain had a first look at the Indian goal in the 11th minute but keeper PR Sreejesh made a comfortable save.
India were awarded a penalty corner in the 19th minute but it was miss trapped.
However Manpreet Singh sent in a quick hit towards goal and the ball bounced off Great Britain custodian Harry Gibson and Alashdeep Singh was on hand to steer the ball home giving India a 1-0 lead
Great Britain were on level terms in the 25th minute as Tom Carson sent a quick hit into the far corner catching Sreejesh on the wrong foot.
The third quarter saw play largely confined to the midfield as India tried to penetrate through the middle but with no success.
India went 2-1 ahead in the 47th minute as SV Sunil laid up the ball for Mandeep Singh who tapped the ball into goal.
That got Great Britain fighting back and in the 52nd minute they were back on level for the second time, this time through Alan Forsyth.
Great Britain coach Bobby Crutchley was obviously please with the result.
" We played pretty well and did not give India much space to move with the ball. It was indeed a very tight game and I am happy with the way the players came back fighting hard after going down twice," said Crutchley.
"I just wish we had scored in the last penalty corner and that would have made a lot of difference.
"Generally, it was a good game playing against the World No 6 who has had a great season.
With this latest team of youngsters coming through the ranks I wish to play more often in international tournaments as Great Britain.
"We have a long way and competing in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is a high level tournament of distinction. I have so much good to say of the team, the way they played against India today and I hope it gets better against Japan tomorrow."