India recorded yet another stunning performance, outclassing Malaysia 5-2 in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament here on Monday.
The margin not only mirrors the dominance of India's victory but proves the loss in the last Asian Games when the team went down to a golden goal in the semifinal in Guangzhou to the same opponent was an aberration.
On a day when everything worked to a nicety, with Arjun Halappa clearly playing the captain's role, the home team lost the match within 22 minutes. Yes, India had scored three goals in that period and added one more before the break.
Clinical in execution and almost symphonic in weaving the patterns, the Indians bewildered the Malaysian defenders as much as they did their goalkeeper Kumar.
It was a graceful run by Arjun Halappa that set up the first goal. Roshan Minz provided the finishing touches with a delicate deflection. Then mid-fielder Ravipal sprinted down to provide Mandeep Antil a perfect pass. A quick finish by Antil rebounded off Kumar's pads, but he was quick enough to tap in the rebound. A scorcher of a penalty corner hit by Rupinder that sent the ball soaring to the roof of the net gave India the third. Close to half-time, Sunil netted off a Shivendra pass.
Truly, the Indians were riding the crest of a wave that the nonplussed Malaysians watched in awe, as the raids came in a cascade. Halappa received excellent support from Vikas Pillay, who played brilliantly on the left, and from the seasoned Vikram. In the deep, both Mahadik and Rupinderpal ensured that the Malaysians made no progress beyond a point.
Clearly embarrassed by the developments before the home crowd, headed by Sultan Azlan Shah, the Malaysians had no clue about the contest until Md. Azami broke through to pick up a goal.
Shortly after the break, Sharun Nabil scored to put pressure on the Indians. Green cards for Rupinderpal and Roshan Minz, and a yellow for Sarwanjit only raised tension in the Indian camp. But the Indians managed to regain the initiative when Antil sounded the boards a minute remained for the hooter.
India has seven points from four matches while Malaysia is yet to open its account after three matches. Harendra was delighted that the team put into play the strategy programmed before the encounter.
Big win for Aussies
An admirable blend of athleticism, approach-work and adeptness enabled Australia inflict a devastating 5-1 defeat on Pakistan. The Aussies underlined, rather emphatically, why they are rated World No. 1.
While Matthew Swann controlled the mid-field with authority, the frontline functioned with methodical efficiency under the leadership of Glenn Turner and Jason Wilson.
True, a debatable penalty stroke in the early minutes propelled the Aussies to an advantageous slot. Simon Orchard flicked in the lead. But thereafter the Aussies had everything rolling for them despite the equaliser by Sohail Abbas close on half-time. Two splendid goals by Wilson and another by Simon Orchard had class engraved on them.
Great Britain moved a step closer to the final spot with a convincing 3-1 victory over New Zealand. With nine points, Great Britain not only leads the table but looks the most accomplished side in the competition.
Tuesday is a rest day
The results: Australia 5 (Simon Orchard 2, Christopher Cirello, Jason Wilson 2) bt Pakistan 1 (Sohail Abbas); Great Britain 3 (Richard Mantell, Jonathan Clarke, Richard Alexander) bt New Zealand 1 (Shay Neal); India 5 (Roshan Minz, Mandeep Antil 2, Rupinderpal Singh, S.V. Sunil) bt Malaysia 2 (Md. Azami, Sharun Nabil).
Keywords: Azlan Shah hockey tournament