Azlan Shah Cup 2019: India vs Malaysia preview, prediction, telecast, date, start time and where to watch online
Pakistan has, historically, proven to be India's biggest nemesis, both at the Asian level and the world stage with the head-to-head record until 2016 being loaded heavily in favor of the Men in Green - but the four-time former world champions have failed to beat India ten times in succession over the last two years bringing to a standstill their imposing dominance.
Yet, the Indians have had little relief, as a team which was, for long, considered the dark-horses of Asian Hockey is beginning to make their presence felt - and have emerged as a formidable threat - displaying time and again that they can upset their higher-ranked rivals in the matches that count.
Harendra Singh was the assistant to coach Jose Brasa when the Malaysians stunned India with a last-minute goal to win the semifinals of the Guangzhou Asian Games of 2010 which prompted a distraught Harendra to stand down.
Eight years later, with Harendra as Head Coach, the Malaysian tigers inflicted further agony on the Indians - again, with a last-minute goal in the semifinals of the Jakarta Asian Games which led to a fateful shootout with Sreejesh and co. ending up on the losing side.
Roelant Oltmans was the man who guided the Malaysians to a goalless draw against India at the Asian Champions Trophy which followed the Asian Games last year - but, as coach of India back in 2017, it was a defeat to Malaysia which eventually led to the Dutchman being shown the door after Manpreet's boys crashed to a 2-3 defeat in an HWL Semifinal match.
Muhammad Razie Rahim is a name the Indians are unlikely to forget for a long time to come - it was a PC brace from the dangerous drag-flicker which sunk the Indians at the HWL in London - and yet again, it was a short corner from the 31-year-old which leveled the scoreline at Jakarta.
Rahim has scored just once in the tournament thus far, but the Indian defence will have to keep brothers Fitri and Faizal Saari at bay - more so, since the latter has already scored a hattrick and is currently the leading scorer in the competition with 5 goals to his name.
Tajuddin Tengku and Firhan Ashari can also be livewires up front, but the young Indians will take heart from the fact that an even younger and less experienced side had thrashed the Malaysians by a 5-1 margin at the same venue last year.
The Malaysians who were placed in the Group of Death had a disappointing World Cup, but Max Caldas whose Dutch side beat both India and Malaysia at Bhubaneswar Cup told Sportskeeda that, under the tutelage of Oltmans, the Azlan Shah Cup hosts could prove to be more than a handful.
"I guess that Malaysia has had more time under Roelant now, and would have gotten stronger, especially playing at home in very tough conditions they get much better. Good corner options, skillful and fast strikers. India is a very tough team too, with similar characteristics, very good corner, skillful strikers but a stronger midfield I think."
The hosts have won both their encounters, so far, and are perched on top of the heap with 6 points, after having thrashed minnows Poland by a 5-1 margin, and, more significantly have managed to get past Japan who they lost to in the Asian Games final.
After a not-so-convincing win against Japan, a disappointing draw against South Korea, (and a 0-3 loss to Malaysia in a practice game), the Indians will have to fire on all cylinders, and hope that the think-tank - who are without a head coach - can devise a strategy to outwit the redoubtable Roelant Oltmans.
Here is how you can catch all the action
Event: Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019
Venue: Ipoh, Malaysia
Date: 26 March 2019
Time: 6:05 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: No telecast in India
Live Streaming: Details awaited
Live Updates: Sportskeeda
The Indians are third in the table and need to win convincingly to nudge past the Koreans who have a better goal difference. An all-out attack may well leave the defence stretched and the Indians will need to minimize the numbers of PC's they concede if they wish to come out on top.
Score Prediction: India 3 - Malaysia 1