Muscat, October 23: Defending champions India maintained their unbeaten run in the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament in Muscat on Tuesday (October 23), as a determined Malaysia held the higher-ranked side to a goalless draw.
Heading into the fourth game of the round robin stage, the Indian team was determined to avenge their Asian Games loss, but at stoppage time the scoreline stood at 0-0. Earlier the defending champs had gotten off to a rollicking start with an 11-0 win over hosts Oman, followed by a 3-1 win over arch-rivals Pakistan.
FT. Despite a spirited performance with an array of attacks, the Indian Men's Hockey Team falls short of converting and finishes the hard-fought round-robin encounter against Malaysia with a deadlock at the Hero Asian Champions Trophy. #IndiaKaGame #HeroACT2018 #INDvMAS pic.twitter.com/HmMopjmfXK— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) October 23, 2018
In their last match the champs had registered a morale-boosting win over reigning Asian Games gold medallist Japan 9-0. Heading into the game against Malaysia, which had been pegged as one of the exciting games of the group stage, the Indian team was confident of avenging their loss.
But Malaysia denied them once again. The contest was expected to be a cracker one, with two of the best ranked sides on the field. While Malaysia is ranked 13th, India is ranked higher at 5th. But the match ended goalless. Malaysia kept the Indians at bay from the onset, giving them no chances. The sides headed into break goalless.
After the break, the men in blue were more persistent as they created more chances. They looked a more settled unit creating several chances but failed to convert them. Both teams were resilient till end as they failed to find the back of the net.
India got their golden opportunity in the fourth quarter but were frustrated once again. The champs were awarded two penalty corners, but both Harmanpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh failed to breach the Malaysian net.
With the match ending in a draw, India lead the table with 10 points from five matches and a semifinal berth all but secured. On the other hand, Malaysia have the same points but are ranked lower as they are behind India on goal difference.
On Wednesday, the champs will take on South Korea in their last round robin match, while Malaysia will face Pakistan on Thursday.