India beat Malaysia 4-1 in the Bronze medal playoff match at the Four Nations Invitational Tournament today. The team dominated the Malaysians from start to finish, scoring twice in the final quarter to take a much-deserved victory.
Shrugging off yesterday's disappointment, India were looking to strike and consolidate early to avoid any pressure from the Malaysians. They started off with several quick turnovers and passes, before scoring as early as the second minute of play.
Birendra Lakra picked up the ball near centre field and drove his shot diagonally into the circle. The cross evaded everyone, before falling to Akashdeep Singh lurking at the far post. Akashdeep showed great awareness and superb skill to deflect the ball in and give India the lead.
India kept control throughout the quarter and had several more chances, most notably with a flurry of four consecutive PCs right at the death, but the Malaysians defended stoutly to go into the first break down by just the one goal.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, and Affan Yousuf came closest, expertly steering past three Malaysian defenders before unleashing a reverse hit towards goal. Malaysia's goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam was up to the challenge though patting it away to deny him a goal. Malaysia picked up the pace of their game in the final minutes of the quarter, but despite several circle penetrations, they failed to create any real chances. The teams went into half time separated by the single goal scored by India.
The game opened up more in the 3rd quarter as Malaysia chased the game, India were happy to sit back and work on the counter. Despite several circle penetrations neither team created any real opportunities almost till the end of the 3rd quarter.
In the final minute though, VR Raghunath capitalised on a pair of PCs to convert one and double India's lead. Malaysia hit back almost from the restart catching India's defence unawares; Joel van Huizen's goal taking them into the final break down by the single goal.
India kept up the pressure in the final quarter, desperate to not repeat the mistakes of yesterday. They constantly pressed high and won several turnovers. Akashdeep was at the thick of things, first getting away a smart shot from inside the circle which was parried away by Kumar Subramiam.
Soon after though, he had another superb moment, dribbling away from Malaysia's defence to cut back a pass to Talwinder Singh, whose first time chip deflection beat the goalkeeper to complete India's third goal of the game.
Now India were in total control and were adamant to not let Malaysia back into the match. In the 58th minute they had another PC and from the drag flick Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake in slotting the ball to the bottom right corner to give India a 4-1 advantage.
It would be the last bit of action on the pitch as India ran down the clock at the end to take a deserved victory and the Bronze medal from the Four Nations Invitational Tournament.