Indian team at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is making progress with every match after they were defeated by New Zealand with score board reading 5-1 in favor of the Black Sticks (7th in FIH Ranking). 10th ranked India bounced back to win (2-1) against formidable Korea (6th in FIH Ranking), but only to get defeated (2-3) by Great Britain (4th in FIH Ranking) in a hard fought match. In their 4th outing in the tournament, India defeated young team of hosts Malaysia (3-2) and kept themselves in contention for a spot in final. India will play Argentina (at 13:35 IST on May 30) in next match before taking on their arch-rivals Pakistan (at 15:35 IST on May 31) in their last match of league stage.
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In the India’s third match of the campaign, Great Britain took lead in 29th and doubled it in 44th minute in well worked penalty corners through Glenn Kirkham and Ben Hawes, but India equalized through Raghunath (PC) and Sunil (FG) in 56th and 59th minutes respectively, only to concede third goal of the game when Nick Caltin scored the winner for his team by putting the ball above advancing PR Sreejesh after latching on to ball from Mat Daly through Indian defenders on the top of semi circle. (Great Britain Beat India to Climb the Table)
Points Table till 27th May (Schedule/Results here):
India overcame impressive young side of hosts Malaysia (3-2), which has 7 players from their Jr Asia Cup winning squad bringing in lots of fresh energy and approach to the game. Impressive young Malaysian team (13th in FIH Ranking) was high on confidence after playing two draws in their first two matches against Great Britain (4th in FIH Ranking) and Korea (6th FIH Ranking). The young guns of Malaysia created enough pressure on Indian defence even after conceding two quick goals in 9th and 11th minute (Danish Mujtaba and Shivendra Singh respectively) in first half but India went in lemon break with the cushion of 2 goals. Malaysia came back strongly in second half and pulled one back in 40th minute through PC, but India increased the lead in very next minute through Tushar Khandekar. Rest of match was eventful, with 3 PCs for both the teams, India playing most of it with 10 player owing to their own mistakes, Malaysia’s Fitri Saari scored a beautiful goal from right baseline and India’s evergreen Sardar Singh found the cross bar when he took PC shot in the absence of Indian drag-flickers on field.
Indian chief coach Michael Nobbs said “The tournament is wide open. Big victories in our two remaining games could even get us a place in the final,”
“Our focus has not shifted from preparing the squad for the Olympic Games, and we have improved with every outing here,” he said.