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India regain Asia Cup hockey crown after 10 years

Last updated on: October 22, 2017 20:52 IST

India's earlier Asia Cup conquests were in 2003 and 2007

India's players celebrate with the Asia Cup after beating Malaysia in the final

IMAGE: India's players celebrate with the Asia Cup after beating Malaysia in the final, in Dhaka, on Sunday. Photograph: Hockey India

India won the Asia Cup hockey title after a ten-year hiatus, beating Malaysia 2-1 in the final in Dhaka on Sunday.

In a thrilling encounter, Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India while Shahril Sabah pulled a goal back for Malaysia in the 50th minute.

The Indians were under tremendous pressure in the last quarter, with the Malaysians having 11 players in attack after taking off their goalkeeper, but held on with some stout defending to clinch a memorable victory.  

India, who trounced Pakistan 4-0 in their last Super 4 match on Saturday, had defeated Malaysia 6-2 earlier at the same stage to make it to the final unbeaten.

They last won the Asia Cup in 2003 and 2007.

Pakistan won the bronze medal, beating Korea 6-3 in the third-fourth place play-off match earlier in the day.

It was the perfect start for Marijne Sjoerd, India's new chief coach, as the Asia Cup was his first tournament in-charge of the senior national side.

The top-ranked Indians finished unbeaten in the tournament, having won all their matches, except the 1-1 draw against Korea in the Super 4 stage.

Ramandeep Singh celebrates after scoring

IMAGE: Ramandeep Singh celebrates after scoring against Malaysia in the final of the Asia Cup, in Dhaka, on Sunday. Photograph: Hockey India

The Indians launched an all-out attack from the start and took the lead as early as the third minute through Ramandeep, who scored from a rebound after his initial deflection from SV Sunil's cross hit the post.

Chinglensana Singh's reverse hit from close range then went wide as India wasted a golden chance to increase the lead.

Malaysia secured their first penalty-corner in the 13th minute but wasted it.

Harmanpreet Singh was then denied by Razie Rahim, who made a goalline save to keep out the Indian defender's flick from India's first penalty-corner.

Minutes later, Malaysia’s goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam effected a double save – he first kept out Akashdeep Sinh's shot and then denied Amit Rohidas from the resultant set-piece.

Lalit Upadhyay

IMAGE: Lalit Upadhyay makes his way into the circle in the final of the Asia Cup against Malaysia, in Dhaka, on Sunday. Photograph: Hockey India

A minute before half-time, Lalit doubled India's lead when he beautifully deflected home Sumit's reverse hit cross from the left flank.

After the change of ends, Lalit and Ramandeep came tantalisingly close to extending India's tally of goals but their efforts from inside the circle were off the target.

Down by two goals, the Malaysians came out all guns blazing in the fourth and final quarter in search of the equaliser.

After wasting their second penalty-corner, they were back in the match when Saabah scored from close range in the 50th minute.

It was nervous last 10 minutes for the Indians as Malaysia mounted attack after attack in search of the equaliser.

From their third penalty-corner, Malaysia had a golden opportunity to take the match into shoot-out, but the Indian defence stood firm.

With three minutes left, Malaysia withdrew goalkeeper Subramaniam for an extra player but the move failed to yield desired result as the Indians held on for a famous victory.

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