India beat Malaysia 2-1 to win third Asia Cup title
Dhaka: India's ten-year wait for the continental title ended on Sunday as they defeated Malaysia 2-1 to win their third Asia Cup title in Dhaka. India won the tournament twice before in 2003 and 2007 editions. They finished runners-up in the last edition in 2011 after losing to South Korea in final.
It was not a lop-sided affair like their Super 4s contest when India defeated Malaysia 6-2, instead India had to survive some tense moments in the final few minutes to maintain the narrow lead.
Ramandeep Singh (3rd) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) were the goal-scorers for India, while Shahril Saabah (50th) scored for Malaysia. Akashdeep Singh was adjudged Man-of-the-Match.
India was leading 2-0 with just over ten minutes left in the game when Sabah scored a brilliant goal for Malaysia to reduce the lead. It was Malaysia's first shot on goal of the match, and they successfully converted it.
India started the match with attack-mode on penetrating the Malaysia circle as soon as the game began. The attacks paid off as Ramandeep Singh tapped in a good chance in the third minute to give India an early advantage. Malaysia pressed hard for the equaliser in the first quarter and dominated the proceedings but without much success.
The second quarter began similarly with India attacking the Malaysia circle from the word go. But the goal came late in the quarter as India double their lead through a fine counter-attack. India started the run from their circle and reached the Malaysian D with superior numbers. Gurjant Singh collected the ball at the top of the circle on the left flank from Akashdeep Singh and passed it in front of the goal-mouth where Lalit Upadhyay made no mistake to score the goal in the 29th minute.
India went into the half-time break with a two-goal lead.
Even though Malaysia led the possession stats (58%) in the first half and made seven circle penetrations, they failed to convert them into shot on goal - the most crucial stat. India, on the other hand, made as many as six on target from eight circle entries and succeeded to convert two into goals.
No goal in the Q3, but it was all India in the quarter as they made as many as nine circle entries with two shots on goal. Malaysia managed just one in the entire quarter.
Meanwhile, Pakistan rode on a hat-trick by Ajaz Ahmad to demolish South Korea 6-3 and clinch the bronze medal at the Hero Asia Cup 2017 hockey tournament here on Sunday.