Murray Wenzel / AAP news
The Kookaburras have put paid to plucky Pakistan’s quarter-final hopes by setting up a men’s hockey Commonwealth Games semi-final against England.
The Australian men’s team won 7-0 with Tom Wickham scoring a second-half double to blow out an entertaining contest at Birmingham University on a chilly Thursday night.
In their first encounter in four years, Pakistan were bold and skilful in their pursuit of a two-goal victory that would have seen them pip South Africa for second spot in the pool.
Instead South Africa’s upset of New Zealand in the earlier game saw them through to a final-four showdown with India, who pipped England for the top spot on goal difference.
“We have to come out and play our best every day cause if you’re off you’re in big trouble,” veteran of four Games and Australian flag bearer Eddie Ockenden said.
“Yesterday (against South Africa) and today, tight, first-half tussles.
“They’re awesome players … I love having Pakistan in the tournament, they’re beautiful to watch, so skilful, hard to tackle.
“It’s such cool hockey and good crowds.
“We have to be our best and I love playing home teams … it’s not always we get great crowds so it’s going to be awesome.”
Tokyo Olympics silver medallists Australia have won all six men’s hockey gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, but were under fire early.
Pakistan were denied three times by Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter, twice in rapid succession in general play then again from an ensuing penalty corner.
Australia, yet to concede a goal in the tournament, had a reply through Blake Govers.
The striker obliged when presented with an open goal, Jake Whetton flirting with the baseline before his pass to Wickham was then slapped across the face to Govers.
Jeremy Hayward added another from a rifled, low-drag flick to put Pakistan’s finals dream further from reach and dim the parochial crowd in a city boasting a healthy Pakistan population.
The University’s clock – the world’s tallest freestanding clock tower nicknamed Old Joe – chimed for 10pm in the background as Hayward scored his second.
Then Daniel Beale somehow controlled a ball while lying on the ground in the circle, swiping a pass to Wickham for his first.
He then cheekily found space inside the post to finish a superb solo run before Jacob Anderson and Nathan Ephraums completed the rout.
Australian back-up goalkeeper Johan Durst then got valuable minutes and made several sharp saves to maintain Colin Batch’s side’s flawless defensive record.