Kazakhstan opened their campaign in the World League First Round with a convincing 6-1 win over Sri Lanka at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium. Having led 3-0 within the opening eight minutes, Kazakhstan was foiled by the tenacity of the Sri Lanka players who defended stoutly despite being under pressure a large part of the match. Though awarded 11 penalty corners in the match, Kazakhstan scored only four and this attributed to their failure to notch up a much bigger win.
Kazakhstan went onto the offensive from the start and were duly rewarded when Vera Domashneva in the 4th minute. In the 6th minute Kazakhstan was awarded their first penalty corner. Instead of making a direct attempt, Gulnara Imangaliyeva relayed the ball to the far post for Vera to deflect into goal to give Kazakhstan a 2-0 lead. Sri Lanka skipper Dinesha Pereira and Madhushani Battagodage created some openings and forced two penalty corners but they could not get a shot on target to trouble Olga Sheveleva in the Khazak goal. Gulnara then scored via direct hits from two penalty corners, in the 8th and 21st minutes to put Kazakhstan 4-0 ahead and Sri Lanka were reeling. However Sri Lanka managed to reduce the deficit in the 23rd minute through Dinesha and tightened their defence. Kazakhstan tried to break down the opponents defence with Olga Khonina and Gulnara coming close as the teams trooped off at halftime with Kazkhstan leading 4-1. The exchanges were even in the opening minutes of the second half as Kazakhstan were foiled time and again by Aruni Jauyasinghe and Madhura Raththepitiya. Kazakhstan managed to net their fifth goal in the 66th minute through the efforts of Vera who completed her hat-trick. Another penalty corner conversion by Natalya Sazontova in the 70th minute ensured a big win for Khazakhstan who take on hosts Malaysia on Saturday.
Report supplied by Satwant Singh Dhaliwal.