Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: India demolish Malaysia to book final berth

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© Hockey India

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: India demolish Malaysia to book final berth

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Debarshee Mitra

04/15/2016

India defeated Malaysia 6-1 in their last league match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Friday to book a place in the final. Goals by Nikkin, Harjeet, Mujtaba, Talwinder and a brace from Ramandeep ensured the thumping win for the Indian men, while Malaysia pulled one goal back through Saabah.

Starting lineups

India XI: Akash Chitke, Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Sardar Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Sunil Sowmarpet, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Manpreet Singh

Malaysia XI: Hairi Rahman, Marhan Jalil, Fitri Saari, Joel van Huizen, Firhan Ashari, Sukri Mutalib, Razie Rahim, Faiz Jali, Azuan Hasan, Izad Jamaluddin, Shahril Saabah

Looking for a win on to seal their place in the final, India got off to a flyer in the match with the forwards attacking with purpose. In the 3rd minute, Sunil dragged it back for Nikkin Thimmaiah to open the scoring from point-blank range. Malaysia had a golden opportunity to equalize when Aiman found himself through on goal, but with no support arriving, he delayed the shot and Harjeet Singh recovered brilliantly to put in an excellent tackle. The rising star then made the men-in-yellow pay with a driving run from deep. The  20-year old scored in the 7th minute after a hustling run that saw him drive the ball into the back of the net with a thunderous reverse-hit to double India’s lead. And there was an opportunity to further widen the gap with only 10 minutes on the clock, but Sunil’s effort was saved valiantly by Hairi Rahman in the Malaysian goal. India continued their dominance and won a penalty-corner in the dying minutes of the first quarter, coming eerily close to a third. With the hooter signalling the end of the first period, India went into the break with a deserved two-goal lead. 

Malaysia started the second quarter looking much more settled than the first period, but looked very wayward in attack. After gaining a little momentum, however, they lost their captain at a crucial period. Razie Rahim was shown the yellow card in the 25th minute, meaning Malaysia played under-strength for the rest of the second quarter and India made them pay. In the same minute, India won a penalty corner. After some tidy stickwork from Danish Mujtaba and Sannuvanda Utthappa, Ramandeep Singh found himself unmarked in the mouth of the goal, and made no mistake, slotting in India’s third and to put the side in the driver’s seat. Mujtaba followed his good work two minutes later with a goal of his own, scoring from another penalty corner to give India an unassailable lead. By the time the half-time hooter went off, India were already dreaming of the Saturday’s final against Australia. The third quarter started much like the second, with Malaysia looking more composed in their play and India looking content with their massive lead. But much like the second period, India capitalized as soon as Malaysia switched off and soon boasted off a 5 goal lead. Ramandeep Singh whose brilliant positioning got India the third goal, ghosted in behind the Malaysian defence again. This time, to nick a Harmanpreet Singh pass into the net to get India’s 5th goal of the game, establishing further daylight between the two sides in the process.

With nothing left to play, India took their foot off the gas in the last period allowing Shahril Saabah to pull one back for Malaysia. But India responded back in style with Talwinder Singh punishing Rahman’s poor clearance by scoring the sixth Indian goal in the 50th minute.

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