The Indian Men’s Hockey Team rode on splendid goals by Shilanand Lakra (10’), Gurjant Singh (42’, 57’), Sumit Kumar (48’) and Ramandeep Singh (51′) to beat hosts Malaysia 5-1 here at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018 on Wednesday. With this convincing victory, they kept their hopes alive to play in the Final. Faizal Saari (33’) was the lone goal scorer for the home team.
Coming into the match after a stunning 2-1 win against Olympic Champions Argentina, Malaysia were quick to get off the blocks, attacking India’s circle with their front runner Faizal Saari attempting the team’s first shot on goal. He beat three Indian defenders into the circle but couldn’t make a potential connection to score. But it was India who drew the first blood with an opening goal through Shilanand Lakra in the 10thminute. The new entrant in the Indian team did exceptionally well to pick up a baseline pass from Gurjant Singh to tap it over the Malaysian goalkeeper fetching India 1-0 lead.
The following minutes saw Indian goalkeeper Suraj Karkera stay busy at the post as he made some brilliant saves. It was Faizal Saari’s second attempt to score which was parried away by the young Karkera. He later saved another well-struck shot by Tengku Tajudin.
India did well to dominate with ball possession while their defence stuck to their guns to deny a goal. Meanwhile, Surrender Kumar, Shilanand Lakra and Sumit Kumar worked in tandem to win the first PC of the match in the second quarter but Amit Rohidas’s flick was blocked away. Just seconds before the halftime, Fitri Saari showed some good stick work to take a shot on goal but went far too wide disappointing the home crowd.
With just one goal up, India had their task cut out in the third quarter. Conceding a PC three minutes into the third quarter didn’t help their cause. Faizal Saari, who had missed many opportunities to score early on, was accurate as he fiercely struck the ball past Karkera to equalize in the 33rd minute. A PC in the 42nd minute saw Gurjant Singh hold on to the rebound, after Varun Kumar’s flick rebounded off the goalkeeper. An attentive Gurjant had to tap the ball into the post to fetch India the much-needed 2-1 lead.