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Home > Sports > Hockey > Report

India escape to victory

Our Correspondent | March 04, 2004 22:22 IST
Last Updated: March 04, 2004 23:39 IST

India staged a remarkable recovery after being two goals down by the 13th minute to beat Malaysia 5-3 in their second match of the men's Olympic hockey qualifier in Madrid on Thursday.

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A fine brace by Gagan Ajit Singh was the highlight of India's first victory in the tournament, following the 1-1 draw to Belgium in their opening match.

In the earlier match, Pakistan laboured to down a defence-oriented Belgium 2-0, with both the goals coming in the second half.

New Zealand took the honours in the last match of the day, beating Canada 4-2 to notch their second consecutive victory in Pool B.

Two goals each by Darren Smith and Phillip Burrows set up the Kiwi success, while the Canadians showed some spark in the second-half and scored twice through Rob Short (penalty stroke) and Ravinder Kahlon.

Malaysia really gave the eight-time Olympic champions a scare as they established a two-goal lead. But a smart display by the Indian midfielders, who intelligently split the Malaysian defence, fashioned a great recovery.

India forced their first penalty-corner in the 10th minute and Boon Huat Chua did well to deflect the ball home and put his side into the lead - 1-0.

From the restart, Malaysia won the ball and forced their second penalty-corner. Skipper Kuhan Shanmuganathan sent a low, powerful flick that beat Indian keeper Devesh Chauhan all ends up – 2-0.

Two goals within three minutes had the Indians stunned. But they pulled their socks up and pulled a goal back in the 16th minute when Deepak Thakur met a fine cross from the left and tapped the ball home 1-2.

India maintained the pressure on the Malaysian goal and were rewarded in the 27th minute when Gagan Ajit Singh Gagan scores with a reverse stick shot past Malaysian keeper Subramanium 2-2.

A minute earlier hardworking Indian midfielder Viren Rasquinha saw the upright come in the way of his neat deflection following a free-hit from outside the circle.

India earned their second penalty-corner in the 29th minute after goalkeeper Subramanium lifted the ball while trying to clear it. Captain Dilip Tirkey drove hard and true to put India into the lead for the first time in the match - 3-2.

Crossing over a goal up, the Indians went on the offensive from the start of the second session. Gagan Ajit could have got his second goal in the 43rd minute but goalkeeper Subramanium did well to glove a stiff reverse shot. But the junior World Cup-winning captain did not have to wait long to score, sounding the board in the 46th minute 4-2.

Mohammad Amin Rahim pulled one back for Malaysia in the 61st minute when he converted a penalty-stroke (3-4) but Baljit Singh Dhillon capped a fine run to score to minutes later - 5-3.

The Malaysians fought back andforced two penalty-corners, the last one in the dying seconds, but the Indian defence held on.

Will Malaysia will rue their inability to make the best of the 12 penalty-corners they forced – they scored only twice from the dozen while India got just two and scored from one – the Indians will be heartened by the display of their forwards who scored four field goals. However, they will have to plug the chinks in their defence in order to concede less corners.

They play Pakistan next, and the corners they concede could decide ther outcome of that fixture.

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