Hockey

India fights back to share honours with Malaysia

In Control: Mujtaba Danish, who scored one of India's goal agaisnt Malaysia traps the ball in a midfield action.

In Control: Mujtaba Danish, who scored one of India's goal agaisnt Malaysia traps the ball in a midfield action.   | Photo Credit: Photo: AFP

Will clash with Pakistan on Friday for final spot

The Indian hockey team continued its unbeaten run by fighting back from a goal down to hold Malaysia 2-2 on Wednesday but is still not assured of a place in the final of the Asian Champions Trophy here.

The scorers for India were Ravi Pal Singh (9th) and Danish Mujtaba (52nd). For Malaysia, Tajuddin Jalil (24th) and Muhammad Amin Rahim (32nd) scored.

Later Pakistan pipped South Korea 3-2 and topped the table with nine points followed by India with eight. Japan is third on seven points with Korea fourth with having six points. That puts four teams with a possibility of entering the final.

India can afford a draw provided Malaysia beats Japan. India could then sneak into the final on better goal average, that too if Korea beats China, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.

Goal averages would also count for Pakistan and Korea if India beats Pakistan. The safest bet for India, however, would be to beat Pakistan. In another match, Japan beat China 3-2.

India plays Pakistan on Friday in what will be a virtual semifinal for both teams.

India was in attack mode right from the start as Gurwinder Singh Chandi made his customary run into the Malaysian circle, but the first few appeals for penalty corners were not conceded by the umpire.

A similar attack forged by Chandi, Mujtaba and Sunil also resulted in a melee but the penalty corner did not come India's way. India, however, got the goal in the ninth minute when Sunil shot into the circle and it went off the Malaysian goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin's pads. Ravi Pal picked up the rebound and whacked it in.

Malaysia started dominating the midfield after that, pushing the Indians back. Even the forwards fell back as Malaysia rode on a wave of attacks into the Indian half.

It earned three penalty corners and finally got the equaliser off the third when Tajuddin deflected the flick past the Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh in the 24th minute. In the 32nd minute, Malaysia took the lead off an awful error. A free ball inside the Indian striking circle with no Malaysian in sight, Sreejesh came out charging and kicked the ball against an Indian defender's leg as the umpire ruled for Malaysia's fourth penalty corner.

Muhammad Amin scored off a direct flick. The Indians were now rattled as the errors mounted with the defenders and midfielders unable to clear or pass the ball properly. At the break, Malaysia led 2-1.

The second half was a battle for supremacy. Gone was the five-forward formula for both teams as they battled it out for possession.

Malaysia had the edge and it got four consecutive penalty corners after resumption but couldn't score off any. Off the eighth penalty corner, Sreejesh brought off a brilliant save.

In the 43rd minute, India earned its third penalty corner against the run of play but Rupinder Pal Singh failed to flick the ball in. India's bad run on the penalty corners continued.

Struggling against the man-to-man marking, India finally managed to break the hold in the 52nd minute when Gurbaz moved down the right flank and centred brilliantly as a diving Danish Mujtaba sent the ball into the goal for the equaliser.

Tension mounted as India launched attack with 15 seconds to go but Gurbaz and then Sunil couldn't finish off the move as the hooter went.

The results: India 2 (Ravi Pal Singh 9, Danish Mujtaba 52) drew with Malaysia 2 (Tajuddin Jalil 24, Muhammad Amin Rahim 32).

Pakistan 3 bt South Korea 2; Japan 3 bt China 2.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:28:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/india-fights-back-to-share-honours-with-malaysia/article2433218.ece

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