Ipoh (Malaysia), March 26: India struck four times after a goalless first quarter to tame hosts Malaysia 4-2, climbing to the second spot in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, here on Tuesday.
Sumit Kumar (17th min), Sumit Kumar junior (27th min), drag flicker Varun Kumar (36 min) and Mandeep Singh (58th min) found the net for India. Razie Rahim (27th min) and Firhan Ashaari (57th min) scored for the hosts.
Five minutes into the game, Malaysia won their first penalty corner but Krishan B Pathak, guarding India's post brilliantly saved it. Surender Kumar continued to remain the main-man for India in the backline, thoroughly supported by the experienced Birendra Lakra, making important connections that helped the forward-line surge into the striking circle.
Varun Kumar's pass into the top of the circle saw Hardik Singh work in tandem with Mandeep Singh to set up a shot on goal. It was eventually Sumit who got the right deflection helping India take an important 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
Later, Mandeep helped India win their first PC but after several re-takes India could not extend their lead. Soon Malaysia won their second PC of the match and Razie Rahim did not disappoint the home crowd as he struck low to give Malaysia an equaliser in the 21st minute.
A good tackle by Sumit to dispossess Malaysia's Faizal Saari set-up India's second goal. This time it was Sumit Kumar Jr who put the ball past Malaysia goalkeeper Hairi Rahman in the 27th minute. The third quarter was intense with both teams rallying on counter attacks but India remained determined.
They challenged the Malaysian defence with solid circle entries. Mandeep Singh worked his magic yet again winning India another important PC. Taken by drag flicker Varun Kumar, he scored on a retake with a powerful flick, keeping the ball low to the left.
The 3-1 lead put pressure on the hosts. Though Malaysia had made numerous attempts on goal in the third quarter, including a PC, an alert Krishan did well to keep India's lead. The fourth quarter, though saw Malaysia score a field goal through Firhan Ashaari in the 57th minute who did well to beat Sreejesh at post after he had made two great saves earlier in the quarter.
Get a glimpse of all the action from India's match against hosts Malaysia at the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019.— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) March 26, 2019
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In the 58th minute, a brilliant circle entry and assist by Sumit Kumar Jr to Mandeep Singh helped him score India's fourth goal ending the match on 4-2. India's defence did not make any last-minute minute to take home three points.
Birendra Lakra was named the man-of-the-match for his efforts in helping India defend their lead. India will next take on Canada on Wednesday.