Malaysian second half blitz stuns India

by rediff.com

Malaysia rode on a second half blitz to rout three time champions India with a record 4-1 margin in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. 

The comprehensive win at the Bukit Jalil Stadium was Malaysia's biggest against the eight-time Olympic champions. 

Though India held the upper hand in a mediocre first half, they could not go into the break with the lead. The two teams were locked 1-1 at half time. 

Malaysia were the first to score in the 6th minute from a penalty corner awarded after Inderjit Chadha flung himself deliberately at Mohd Fairuz Ramli. 

Skipper Kuhan Shanmuganathan, who played for Bangalore Hi Fliers in the inaugural Premier Hockey League in Hyderabad, did not disappoint the home crowd as he beat Devesh Chauhan under the bar with a powerful flick. 

However the lead was shortlived as India fought back to get the equaliser three minutes later.

Winger Prabhjot Singh and his Indian Oil team mate Deepak Thakur found their way into the rival circle where Malaysia defender Nor Azlan Bakar committed a foot fault resulting in a penalty corner in favour of India.

Captain Dilip Tirkey scored from the set piece after Len Aiyappa's dummy. 

There was nothing to sparkle in the remaining period of the session as India failed to take advantage of the time Jiwa Mohan was given temperory marching orders for an infringement. 

There were mispasses galore from Lakra and Devender was all at sea. 

Right winger Rajpal Singh and Arjun Halappa were not fed accurate passes as the Indian strikers fumbled time and again around the Malaysian circle. 

Barring Prabhjot, who made good penetrative moves, there was nothing sizzling in the Indian attacks. His indeed was unfortunately a one man army. 

India missed the opportunity to go into the lead shortly before the end of the first half when Dilip Tirkey missed the mark by inches from their second penalty corner. 

The visitors were completely outwitted and blanked in the next 35 minutes, as Malaysia moved with full throttle on their flanks against the unsure India defence. 

With full support from the midfield, Malaysia forwards Ramli, Azlan Misron, Robert Alcantra and Hairul more often than not wrong footed the Indians, including the dependable Tirkey. 

Malaysia went 2-1 up when Alcantra seized the ball from an excellent rundown from the left and after dodging past Devinder, hit a rasper from the edge of the circle in the 49th minute. 

There was no looking back for the hosts as four minutes later they increased their tally from an indirect penalty corner conversion by Mohd Amin Rahim. 

It was another penalty corner goal which was the last nail in the Indian coffin after Aiyappa had body checked Misron. 

Shanmuganathan again found the mark with the flick going between Chauhan and Aiyappa in the 64th minute to round off the tally. 

India, like Malaysia now have four points, but are placed below them by virtue of an inferior goal difference.

India next play Korea on Tuesday while Malaysia will take on the Asian Games gold medallists tomorrow.

Pakistan undefeated after South African win

by S. Thyagarajan, The Hindu

South African put up an inspired performance but couldn’t overcome undefeated Pakistan in a 2-0 loss at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

With Saqlain serving a one-match suspension, the Pakistani mid-field was vulnerable to systematic attacks from the South Africans led by Emille Smith. They forced three penalty corners that were saved nicely by Salman Akbar.

The South African dominance was subdued only late in the first half when Shakeel Abbasi wove his way through a maze of sticks to slot the lead. And before half-time, Rehan Bhatt enlarged the margin.

But try as the attack did on resumption, it could not get the better of the South African defence, so commendably manned by Ken Forbes and Clyde Abrahans. High praise however should also go to goalkeeper Chris Hibbert for the acrobatic saves he brought off. Not all the attempts of Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt and Adnan Zakir could disturb his concentration. Small wonder the second half was blank.

This was Pakistan's third successive win in as many matches. With nine points the team is well on its way to the cup final on June 5. South Africa has one point.

Held goal-less in the first half, in which the Kiwis had more scoring chances, the defending champion, Australia, managed a 2-1 victory thanks to two penalty corner goals David Kosoof scored for New Zealand seconds before the hooter. Australia has seven points, New Zealand one.

Points Table
Pakistan 9pts
Australia 7pts
Malaysia 4pts
Korea 1pt
South Africa 1pt
New Zealand 1pt
India 1pt

Results
Thursday 26 May
India 2 defeated South Africa 1
Australia 3 defeated Malaysia 1
Pakistan 2 defeated New Zealand 1

Friday 27 May
Australia 3 drew Korea 3
New Zealand 2 drew India 2
Malaysia 1 drew South Africa 1

Saturday 28 May
Pakistan 3 defeated Korea 2

Sunday 29 May
Malaysia 4 defeated India 1
Pakistan 2 defeated South Africa 0
Australia 2 defeated New Zealand 1

Monday’s matches
Korea v Malaysia, 3.35pm
New Zealand v Korea, 5.35pm