India ended at the third position by defeating Malaysia 4-1 in the third-place match-off at the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Melbourne today. Talvinder Singh grabbed a brace and Akashdeep Singh scored one, while Rupinder Pal Singh got his customary goal from a penalty corner.
Having lost two games in the round-robin stage to hosts Australia and New Zealand, India played Malaysia to secure the third position in the tournament. Having had a history of dominance over the Malaysians, India got off to a great start as Birendra Lakra tapped a shot into the circle, and Akashdeep Singh duly converted it to a goal in the second minute of the first quarter.
India kept the possession for the major part of the first quarter and kept the ball in the opposition circle for as many time possible and that reaped rewards in the form of a penalty corner as the ball touched the feet of Affan Yousuf.
VR Raghunath, who was leading the side in the absence of skipper PR Sreejesh, had to do the drag-flick as the penalty specialist Rupinder Pal Singh was not in the field at the moment. Malaysia made a mess of it as India were awarded with four back-to-back penalties from that single one. But the Malaysian defenders showed great character to nullify each of the attempts and the first quarter ended with 1-0 in India’s favor.
Although Malaysia tried hard to score an equalizer in the second quarter, the Indian defenders stood their ground. With three minutes to go in the second quarter, India again entered the Malaysia circle but thanks to the brilliant work by the Malaysian goal-keeper Kumar, India couldn’t score any more.
Despite the major part of the third quarter being uneventful, the last five minutes brought life back to the game. VR Raghunath, who had earlier failed to convert the penalties, didn’t make any mistake in his fifth attempt as the ball went in between the two runners and the goalkeeper in the dying minutes of the game.
Seconds later, Joel van Huizen of Malaysia deflected a shot brilliantly to send the ball into the target. With a score of 2-1, the game moved to the fourth quarter.
Without giving any chance to pull off an equalizer, India played more flawless hockey in the fourth quarter as Talvinder Singh found the net in the 52nd minute. With three minutes left in the contest, Rupinder Pal Singh scored his customary goal to take India to 4-1.