India get back in the groove

World No. 5 jump to second spot after beating Malaysia 4-2

Ipoh (Malaysia), March 26 

India struck four times after a goalless first quarter to tame hosts Malaysia 4-2 and climb to the second spot in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here today. Sumit (17th minute), Sumit Kumar (27th), Varun Kumar (36th) and Mandeep Singh (58th) scored for India. Razie Rahim (27th) and Firhan Ashari (57th) scored for the hosts.

With two wins and a draw, India moved up to the second position in the table. India had beaten Japan 2-0 in the first match before playing a 1-1 draw against South Korea.  

Five minutes into the game, Malaysia won their first penalty corner but goalkeeper Krishan Pathak made a brilliant save. Varun’s pass to the top of the circle saw Hardik Singh work in tandem with Mandeep to set up a shot on goal. It was Sumit who eventually got the final touch, his deflection helping India take the lead. Mandeep then helped India win their first penalty corner but after several re-takes India could not extend their lead. 

Soon Malaysia won their second PC and Razie Rahim did not disappoint the home crowd as he struck low. 

Sumit dispossessed Faizal Saari to set up India’s second goal, scored by his namesake. 

In the third quarter, Mandeep worked his magic to win India another PC. Dragflicker Varun scored from a re-take with a powerful flick, keeping the ball low to the left. Though Malaysia made numerous attempts on goal in the third quarter, an alert Pathak kept them at bay. 

Malaysia sparked hopes of a comeback with a late goal by Firhan Ashari. India’s vulnerability at the death, having conceded against South Korea in the last minute, would have given the home team and crowd confidence. But India scored in the next minute to ease the pressure, Mandeep converting from a Sumit Kumar assist. 

India will take on Canada on Wednesday. — PTI

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

  • India (Sumit 17’, Sumit Kumar 27’, Varun Kumar 36’, Mandeep Singh 58’) bt Malaysia (Razie Rahim 21’, Firhan Ashari 57’) 4-2
  • S Korea bt Poland 3-2
  • Canada bt Japan 2-1
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