India faced the hosts Malaysia today in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2015 in a must win match to stay in contention for a place in final. The problem of conceding goals in dying minutes continues to haunt India, as they gave a tough fight to Malaysia but went down 2-3 owing to a late goal by the hosts in front of packed crowd. Earlier in the tournament, India lost to New Zealand in similar fashion and who can forget the Semi Finals of 2010 Asian Games against Malaysia and 2008 Olympic Qualifiers.
The game started with India taking immediate possession of the ball and attacking the D of the Malaysians. India with majority of the possession of the ball kept the pressure on the opponents. In the 12th minute India saw hope as Satbir Singh took possession of the ball and ran solely towards the D, beating two defenders of the opponents, but unfortunately he failed to capitalise. The next minute Akashdeep Singh had a half chance as he received a pass from Raghunath which he passed to Ramandeep who missed on the crucial touch. With both teams unable to open their individual accounts the first quarter proved to be a dry run and scores stood at 0-0.
Immediately into the second quarter Malaysia got a penalty corner in the 17th minute which was converted by Faizal Saari who did not make. mistake in outing it past the Indian goalie. Trailing the game, India bounced back immediately and in the 20th minute India was awarded a penalty corner which was taken by Rupinder Pal Singh. Realising the importance of the opportunity he did no mistake in slamming it into the net and India opened their account with the goal and equalizing the game. Malaysia realizing that they lost hold on the game attacked and got one more penalty corner in their name but they missed capitalising. Post their first goals, both teams failed to score any further and the first half scores stood at 1-1.
The third quarter started with India putting the initial pressure but were unable to convert. It was Malaysia who broke the defence of India in the 35th minute as Samsul Haziq beat PR Sreejesh to score, resulting in Malaysia taking the lead again in the game with 2-1. The same quarter, Sardar Singh trying to enter the D was tackled by the Malaysian defender resulting in India getting the penalty corner. India was unlucky as Rupinder Pal Singh was unable to go past the goalkeeper this time. In the final moments of the quarter Sardar gave a pass to Akashdeep Singh on the left flank who hit at the D towards the goal but the opportunity was lost. The session ended in Malaysia leading 2-1.
Looking at equalising the goal India kept ball possession and attacked the D. India got another shot at the penalty corner but Raghunath failed this time and India lost another opportunity to equalise. Not giving up India maintained the pressure on the opponents. They got another penalty corner in the 51st minute and this time Rupinder ensured that the ball found the nets and India equalised 2-2 leaving the Malaysia stunned. Realising the chance to take the lead, India upped the ante. Manpreet Singh from the right flank created an opportunity by passing the ball to the waiting Ramandeep Singh but unfortunately for India he failed to deflect. Next minute India attacked yet again as Kothajit ran with the ball towards the D and passed the ball to S K Uthappa standing right in front of the goal post but he failed to put the ball past the Malaysian goalie. But it was Malaysia who took the lead in the 58th minute as Shahrun Abdullah converted through an excellent pass by Faizal Saari resulting in Malaysia winning the match 3-2.
India will play its next match against Canada on 9th April 2015 at 13.40 IST.