Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019: India hold off determined hosts Malaysia to secure victory and climb into second place
India's defence did not make any last-minute mistakes, successfully taking home three points, while Birendra Lakra was named the man-of-the-match for his exploits.
India struck four times after a goalless first quarter to tame hosts Malaysia 4-2, climbing to the second spot in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Tuesday
With two wins and a draw, India moved up to the second position in the table with seven points behind Korea (7)
India's defence did not make any last-minute mistakes, successfully taking home three points
Ipoh: India struck four times after a goalless first quarter to tame hosts Malaysia 4-2, climbing to the second spot in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Tuesday.
Sumit Kumar (17th min), Sumit Kumar junior (27th min), drag flicker Varun Kumar and Mandeep Singh (58th min) found the net for India. Razie Rahim (27th min) and Firhan Ashari (57th min) scored for the hosts.
With two wins and a draw, India moved up to the second position in the table with seven points behind Korea (7). India had beaten Japan 2-0 in the first match before playing a 1-1 draw against Korea.
Five minutes into the game, Malaysia won their first penalty corner but Krishan B Pathak, guarding India's post brilliantly saved it.
Surender Kumar continued to remain the main-man for India in the backline, thoroughly supported by the experienced Birendra Lakra, making important connections that helped the forward-line surge into the striking circle.
Varun Kumar's pass into the top of the circle saw Hardik Singh work in tandem with Mandeep Singh to set up a shot on goal.
It was eventually Sumit who got the right deflection helping India take an important 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. Later, Mandeep helped India win their first PC but after several retakes India could not extend their lead.
Soon Malaysia won their second PC of the match and Razie Rahim did not disappoint the home crowd as he struck low to give Malaysia an equaliser in the 21st minute.
A good tackle by Sumit to dispossess Malaysia's Faizal Saari set-up India's second goal. This time it was Sumit Kumar Jr who put the ball past Malaysia goalkeeper Hairi Rahman in the 27th minute.
The third quarter was intense with both teams rallying on counter attacks but India remained determined. They challenged the Malaysian defence with solid circle entries. Mandeep Singh worked his magic yet again winning India another important PC.
Taken by dragflicker Varun Kumar, he scored on a re-take with a powerful flick, keeping the ball low to the left. The 3-1 lead put pressure on the hosts.
Though Malaysia had made numerous attempts on goal in the third quarter, including a PC, an alert Krishan did well to keep India's lead. The fourth quarter, though saw Malaysia score a field goal through Firhan Ashari in the 57th minute who did well to beat Sreejesh at the post after he had made two great saves earlier in the quarter.
In the 58th minute, a brilliant circle entry and assist by Sumit Kumar Jr to Mandeep Singh helped him score India's fourth goal ending the match on 4-2.
India's defence did not make any last-minute mistakes, successfully taking home three points. Birendra Lakra was named the man-of-the-match for his efforts in helping India defend their lead.
India will next take on Canada on Wednesday.
Sushila Chanu may have played 208 matches for India but the tournament in the Netherlands will be her maiden World Cup appearance.
Former hockey captain Sandeep Singh believes India have an edge at CWG 2022 due to multiple drag-flick options
The 36-year-old Sandeep Singh said that India are lucky to have multiple penalty corner specialists in the team.
Lakra, 32, was part of India's bronze medal-winning team at the Tokyo Games and also led the national side at the Asia Cup, where the team won a bronze medal.