India outclass Malaysia 5-2, avenge Asian Games semifinal loss

Last Updated: May 10, 2011, 09:48 AM IST

Ipoh (Malaysia): Double defending champions
India came up with a spirited display to outclass hosts
Malaysia 5-2 and returned back in medal contention in the
Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Monday.

With this win, India have also avenged their shock Asian
Games semifinal loss to Malaysia.

Despite starting their campaign with a 2-3 loss to South
Korea, India are back in the medal hunt with their second
victory from four matches beside the draw against World
champions Australia.

Britain surged to the top of the round-robin league
standings with a 3-1 win over New Zealand, which took their
tally to nine points from four outings.

Australia, meanwhile, hammered Pakistan 5-1 to take their
points tally to seven from three matches and have a slightly
better goal-difference compared to India, who are in the third
position.

India will now play arch-rivals Pakistan in their next
round-robin league match here tomorrow.

Against Malaysia, young Mandeep Antil scored two goals
(18th and 69th minute), while Roshan Minz (8th minute),
Rupinder Pal Singh (22nd) and S V Sunil (35th) found the net
once each for India.

Malaysia`s goals came through Azammi Adabi (34th minute)
and Nabil Abdullah (43rd).

India, who share the tournament record of winning five
titles with Australia, are seeking to complete a hat-trick
after winning the cup in the past two editions. India won it
outright in 2009 and were joint champions with South Korea in
2010 after the match was disrupted by heavy showers.

India took an early lead as Minz capitalised on a pass
from captain Arjun Halappa, who moved in from the left to send
a defence-splitting ball that found Minz in the goalmouth.

Antil made it 2-0 in the 18th minute by picking up a
diagonal cross from Ravipal Singh and shot in from a
hand-shaking distance.

Rupinder continued his brilliant goal-scoring spree by
converting the first penalty corner India got in the 22nd
minute, sending the ball into the cage with a powerful
drag-flick to register his fifth goal of the tournament.

Malaysia made their first purposeful move into the Indian
circle in the 31st minute, but the Indian defence fell back to
avert any danger.

Malaysia pierced the Indian defence for their first goal
through Adabi in the 34th minute.

The move was initiated by a through pass from Firhan
Asharri that got defelected by Izwan Firdaus towards Adabi,
who flicked the ball past a diving Indian goalkeeper Bharat
Chetri.

Within a minute, India scored again through Sunil, who
capitalised on Shivendra Singh`s square-pass to place the ball
in the goal and give India a 4-1 lead at half-time.

After the change of ends, Malaysia produced a more
determined effort, spurred by Nabil Abdullah who snatched the
ball from an Indian defender and shot home from top of the box
past a crowded scoring zone in the 43rd minute.

Lifted by the second goal and vociferous support from the
home crowd, Malaysia`s strikers gave Indian defence a torrid
time for the next 10 minutes.

India survived two close shaves and on both the occasion
custodian Chetri stepped in to ward off the danger.

Chetri saved two penalty corner shots in the last seven
minutes to deny Malaysia before Antil got a touch to a firm
goal-bound drive from Gurwinder Singh Chandi in the dying
stages of the match.

Fifteen members of this Malaysian team are from the
silver-medal winning Asian Games squad of 18 that upset India
in the semifinals, but the hosts were without their captain
Mohammed Madzli Ikmar today after he fractured a cheekbone
during the last game against Australia.

PTI