Ipoh (Malaysia), 05 May 2017
: It was a day of upset wins as Malaysia walked away with a 1-0 win against India here at the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Tournament 2017 on Friday. Backed by a boisterous home crowd, Malaysia held India right till the final quarter until Shahril Saabah (51’) helped take the lead and eventually win the match. Earlier, Japan had scored an incredible 3-2 win against defending champions Australia.
With Great Britain winning their match against New Zealand 3-2 and jumping to the second position in the points table, India had to beat Malaysia by a margin of two goals or more to ensure their spot in the final but their task was cut out with the hosts putting up an intense fight. India will take on New Zealand in the third and fourth placing match on Saturday.
After having gone into the first break in a stalemate, India earned a PC within seconds after the start of the second quarter. It was a quick-thinking Mandeep Singh who found the defender’s leg but India’s ace dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh’s powerful sweep was padded away by Malaysian keeper Kumar Subramiam. Kumar was kept busy all through the quarter but he did not disappoint. He made an important save when Talwinder Singh assisted by Affan Yousuf took a shot on goal in the 22nd minute. A back stick on the ball by Malaysian defender in the striking circle saw India win their second PC in the 23rd minute but the Malaysian rushers did well to deny Rupinder Pal Singh a goal. The hosts’ defence continued to impress as India’s third attempt on PC was denied too ending the second quarter goalless.
Malaysia played a determined game with good defence that continued to test the Indian players. They won their first PC of the match in the 34th minute, a handy work by Faizal Saari who found Sardar Singh’s foot in the circle but a goal was denied. Malaysia won another PC but defender Rupinder Pal Singh ensured the flick didn’t reach the post. With the clock ticking away, India were desperate for a breakthrough.
Entering the final quarter, Malaysia kept up the pressure on India and it didn’t help India’s cause when they won a PC in the 49th minute. But they couldn’t convert with the flick going wide. They won another PC when Fitri Saari found Manpreet Singh’s foot in the circle. This chance didn’t go amiss for Malaysia with Shahril Saabah successfully converting the PC in the 51st minute to take a 1-0 lead.
A PC in the 56th minute brought some hope for India. It was SV Sunil who helped win the PC but a goal was denied with Harmanpreet Singh’s flick saved by Malaysian defenders. Another PC came India’s way with just three minutes for the final hooter. But a variation in set piece saw Rupinder pass to Sardar Singh who couldn’t find the post, thus ending India’s hope to earn the final berth.
On May 6, India take on New Zealand in the third and fourth placing match at 15.35 hrs Indian Standard Time.
Matches will be shown live on Star Sports 2 & HD 2 and live streamed on Hotstar.com