Millennium Post

Azlan Shah Cup: India overcome Malaysia test

Five-time champions India defeated hosts Malaysia 3-2 to put their campaign back on track in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Monday.

Bouncing back from Sunday's loss to Great Britain, India played a brisk game in a fast-paced encounter and led from the start, but had to ward off Malaysia's determined fightback.

But the highlight of the day was title favourites Great Britain's 2-3 shocking defeat at the hands of Argentina which completely opened up the tournament.

New Zealand still leads the standings with nine points from three successive wins, while both Argentina and India lie second with six points from four matches each.

Against Malaysia today, India's defence faced some anxious moments early on as goalkeeper Bharat Chetri first came out to block a shot from Tengku Ahmad in the second minute and then blocked a penalty corner shot by Shahrun Nabil in the sixth minute.

Two minutes later, young Malaysian striker Faisal Saari missed a sitter by flicking wide of an open goal after his initial push rebounded off the Indian custodian's pads.

After the initial burst, Malaysia were at the receiving end as India produced two goals in the space of two minutes to take charge of the game.

Danish Mujtaba deflected in Sarvanjit Singh's shot into the boards in the 10th minute and then Shivendra Singh sent a scorching grounder into the boards from top of the circle in the next minute.

Shivendra's quick reflexes helped keep up the pressure after he had failed to stop the penalty corner push, but dribbled the ball back into the scoring area to take the shot.

India also wasted a number of scoring chances as S K Uthappa shot straight into goalkeeper Subramiam Kumar in the 16th minute and then Yuvraj Walmiki shot wide after the ball was switched around in a brisk counter-attack in the 26th minute.

Malaysia came close to reducing the lead in the 30th minute, but India captain Chetri brought off fine saves, first charging out to block Tengku's solo attempt. The shot rounded off Chetri's pads to Faisal Saari, who then unleashed a firm drive, only to see the goalkeeper block the shot again.

Malaysia pulled a goal back four minutes after half-time when Muhammad Amin converted their second penalty corner, but India scored at the other end within a minute to make it 3-1 as Tushar Khandekar capitalised on a rebound from the goalkeeper, who had blocked Shivendra's shot from the right.

Malaysia displayed a spirited game and were rewarded with a fine goal by Muhammad Fitri Saari, who dribbled into the circle and unleashed a diagonal shot, which goalkeeper Chetri tried to stop, but only managed to deflect it into the net.

Looking for equaliser, the Malaysians forced three penalty corners in the space of six minutes, but the Indian defenders held their ground.

This was Malaysia's first loss in three outings, having drawn their previous two matches.

Among other teams, South Korea's 4-0 win over Pakistan earlier in the day boosted their points tally to four from as many matches. Great Britain have four points from three games, while Pakistan have three points from one victory and two losses.

India will play Argentina in their next game on Wednesday.

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