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Azlan Shah: Malaysia hold India in final league encounter

March 16, 2013 17:02 IST

A controversial penalty stroke enabled Malaysia to hold India to a 2-2 draw in the final round-robin match of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Ipoh on Saturday.

Malaysia will meet Australia in the final while India, who finished last with four points will play Pakistan for the fifth place play-off.

New Zealand will take on South Korea for the third place play-off.

Mandeep Singh scored a field goal in the 20th minute and Rupinder Pal Singh's drag-flick in the 48th minute were the two strikes for India while Saari Faizal scored both the goals for the hosts in the fifth and 70th minute.

Malaysia, with a final tally of 9 points had already made it to the final before taking on India. Malaysia meant business from the word go with the rhythm and cohesion falling in place quickly but the Indians came back strongly to hold them on a tight leash and emerged a deserving winner.

Malaysia forged ahead in the fifth minute when a daper Saari Faizal banged in the first penalty corner of the match.

The hard and high scoop of Faizal brooked no answer from Indian goalkeeper Srejeesh, on a day when he had much less work to do than his counterpart Kumar.

India did well to orchestrate concerted attacks from the flanks. Midway through Manpreet Singh set up Mandeep Singh nicely only for the latter to make a hash of it with a soaring hit into the stands. Not long after came India's first penalty corner only for Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar to continue his good work from where he left off in the earlier matches.

Rupinder Pal Singh's drag flick has been ammunition for Kumar with his confidence in the right place coolly palmed it away. A combined move between Manpreet and Akashdeep had the menacing look till Kumar got into the act with his pads as the first line of defence.

India was not to be denied long for the equalizer through a peach of a goal from Mandeep Singh with an acrobatic flick when the speed Amit Rohidas powered his way past the Malaysian defence to essay a perfect cross from the left.

Kumar ensured that the Malaysians crossed over on level terms with a cracker of a save to thwart Indian skipper Danish Mujtaba close to half time.

On resumption, the desperation on the Malaysian attack was palpable with a couple of miss-passes mirroring the team's discomfiture. They clearly looked short of ideas in a phase admirably dominated by the resurgent Indians.

The Malaysian midfield had the onerous task of pegging back to assist the defence as India did well to keep up the cascading flow of attacks. 

Australia beat New Zealand

Six-time champions Australia notched up a thrilling 3-2 victory over New Zealand to set up a summit clash with three-time finalists Malaysia.

In the final round robin match, New Zealand needed a win to edge out Australia but it was the Kookaburras who had the upper hand today as they took their tally to 11 points.

New Zealand finished their engagements with six points.

Australia began in a stormy fashion and the two penalty corners inside the first five minutes indicated the mood of the team.

Jacob Whetton's twin strikes in the space of two minutes, in the 38th and 39th minutes, put Australia on the driver's seat, while Matt Gohdes took it further away from New Zealand in the 42nd minute with a field goal, his effort the culmination of a neat combo with Daniel Mirecki.

However, it was New Zealand who scored the first goal of the match, much against the run of play. Javed Panchia was excellent in the midfielder and he complemented well the speedy runs of Jacob Smith and Issac Staples in the flanks, giving a harrowing time to Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter.

From one of their break-away moves, New Zealand forged ahead in style when Issac Staples dribbled his way to prise out the Australian defence and all Jacob Smith had to do was to push into an untenanted goal in the 27th minute.

Down 1-3, New Zealand pulled one back in the 55th minute through a neat penalty corner conversion by Cory Bennet.

Such was the Australian domination that it was virtual siege in the rival D. New Zealand got some respite when the heavens opened up and play was suspended for seven minutes.

New Zealand defender Blair Hilton was served yellow card because of a bit of rough play in the first half.

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