Malaysia survive late Indian rally to win 5-3
There was not much at stake for India going into their final league encounter against Malaysia on Wednesday – the Blueshirts have already made it to the final – perhaps the only point of interest was whether India could maintain their unbeaten run in the 2nd Asian Champions Trophy.
Malaysia on their part needed to win by a big margin to prevent Pakistan from being India’s final opponent on Thursday. Well, they couldn’t quite do that but put up a stellar show to outplay India 5-3 to wrap up their campaign on a winning note.
Malaysia attacked at will and they hardly encountered any resistance from India in the first thirty five minutes of play.
It was India’s fighting second half display when they clawed their way back from being 0-4 down to make the scoreline 3-4, which spared some of their blushes.
Malaysians did just what the doctor ordered – seizing the initiative from the start and probing the Indian defence on a consistent basis.
India had a nice scoring opportunity in the 4th minute but Gurwinder Singh Chandi failed to tap home a long pass from Dharamvir Singh on the right flank.
After that missed opportunity, Indians were sitting ducks as Malaysia were all over the shop.
Malaysia earned their first penalty corner in the 9th minute but they could not profit from it. They forced another short corner in the 17th minute but wasted that opportunity as well.
Malaysia may have failed to capitalize on the set-pieces but they attacked in waves, keeping the Indian defence under tremendous pressure.
The Malaysians were rewarded when Mohd. Fitri Saari scored a field goal in the 18th minute. They doubled the lead two minutes later when Azlan Misron finally converted their third penalty corner in the 20th minute.
Stunned by the two quick goals, Indians tried hard to regroup but the Malaysians kept pressing on the accelerator. Saari gave his side a three-goal cushion after scoring his second goal in the 27th minute.
India wasted two penalty corners in the dying moments of the first half as Malaysia maintained the 3-0 lead going into half time.
India started the second half on a bright note with two quick raids but poor finishing let them down.
Malaysia spelt serious trouble for India when Saari found his name on the score sheet for the third time to help his side take an invincible 4-0 lead in the 38th minute.
India messed up another scoring chance when rookie Chinglensana Singh failed to trap a incisive pass from Dharamvir when he had only the goalkeeper to beat.
After a slew of misses upfront, India finally reduced the deficit when Birendra Lakra scored in the 47th minute off their third penalty corner following a goalmouth scramble.
India pressed hard to come back into the contest and forced their fourth penalty corner in the 54th minute but Rupinder Pal Singh made a hash of that opportunity.
SV Sunil soon atoned for that slip-up, finding the target in the 62nd minute to make it 2-4.
A minute later, Vokkaliga Raghunath converted India’s fifth penalty corner – their first of the evening – with seven minutes remaining from the final hooter to keep the Indian hopes alive.
Malaysia had a chance to enhance the lead when they earned their fourth PC in the 64th minute but they were foiled by India.
Soon Malaysia scored the insurance goal in the 68th minute, which all but killed Indian hopes of a comeback.