Former champions Pakistan were held to a 2-2 draw by Japan in their second match of Hero Asia Cup hockey tournament at Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium today.
After a convincing 7-0 win over Bangladesh, Pakistan had a good opportunity to confirm their berth to the Super Fours with a second straight win but they missed out despite taking the lead. Pakistan will need at least a draw against archrivals India in their last Pool match if Japan beat Bangladesh on the same day.
Japan, who came into the match on the back of 5-1 defeat at the hands of India, put up a much improved performance to hold Pakistan in the first quarter before Pakistan took the lead in the first minute of the second quarter.
However, Japan levelled in the 22nd minute with a strike from Tanaka Kenta and Yoshihara Heita gave them the lead in the 29th minute to produce the possibility of an upset.
Pakistan finally leveled the margin in the 50th minute with a nice build-up when Qadir Muhammad Arslan dribbled down the goal line and his cutback found Umar Bhutta, who scored from a tap in to level the score.