A steely Indian outfit came away with full points against a skilful and equally speedy Malaysian side at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium after the hosts had taken a two-goal lead against the run of play in the first quarter.
Half a dozen goals were scored in an open and intense contest which also witnessed some clean and effective tackling - one field goal apiece from both sides were sandwiched by four from set-pieces with the Indian boys rallying hard to end up triumphant by a 4-2 margin.
Muhammad Hassan scored a brilliant goal from open play in the eighth minute which was followed by a PC effort from Muhammad Zainudin soon after, but coach BJ Kariappa's boys did well not to panic and kept probing the Malaysian defence time and again.
The Indians looked a wee-bit tentative to being with, and Dilpreet Singh, in particular, looked distinctly off-colour in the opening stages, failing to trap once too often - and although his rebound off a PC found the back of the net, the goal did not count.
Pratap Lakra, however, made the most of a penalty stroke midway through the second quarter and added to his team's tally with a monster drag-flick early in the third.
The Indians took the lead just before the end of the third quarter after Shilanand Lakra fired one home from near the goalmouth off a PC - in spite of the fact that the ball had not been stopped tidily.
A sustained period of pressure from the Malaysians in the final quarter failed to yield results in spite of several close calls for the Indian defenders - and goalkeeper Prashant Chauhan held the fort even though his team were a man down after Dinachandra picked up a yellow card with just over five minutes left on the clock.
Flashes of Dilpreet's old brilliance were evident as the match progressed and the striker from Punjab helped Uttam Singh score India's fourth right at the death after a dreadful defensive lapse from the Malaysians.
The Indians face New Zealand today - a team which lost to Great Britain by a 0-2 margin yesterday - and coach BJ Kariappa will need to organize his defensive unit who were erratic on occasion, in the opener.
New Zealand's match against the defending champions was a close affair with GB opening their account after their opponents had been reduced to ten men with captain Xavier Guy being yellow-carded just after the long break - and the Indians will need to look sharp against a side they had annihilated by a 7-1 margin at the same venue last year.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
Event: Sultan of Johor Cup 2019
Venue: Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Date: 13 October 2019
Time: 3:35 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: No Telecast
Live Streaming: Notthefootyshow
The relatively inexperienced defensive line-up will need to plug the holes at the back to allow the flamboyance of Dilpreet Singh and co. to flourish in the attacking circle - but the manner in which the Indians came from behind to outmanoeuvre the hosts will have done their confidence a world of good.