Melbourne: India defeated Malaysia 4-1 in the bronze medal play-off match at the Four Nations Invitational hockey tournament here on Sunday.
For India, Akashdeep Singh (2nd minute), V.R. Raghunath (45th), Talwinder Singh (52nd) and Rupinder Pal Singh (58th minute) scored while Joel van Huizen found the net for Malaysia.
India dominated from start to finish, scoring twice in the final quarter to take a much deserved victory.
Shrugging off Saturday’s disappointment when India lost to New Zealand, the winners were looking to strike and consolidate early to avoid any pressure from the Malaysians. The Indians started off with several quick turnovers and passes, scoring as early as in the second minute of play. Birendra Lakra picked up the ball near centre field and drove his shot diagonally into the circle. The cross evaded everyone before going to Akashdeep Singh lurking at the far post.
Akashdeep showed great awareness and superb skill to deflect the ball in. India kept control throughout the quarter and had several more chances, most notably with a flurry of four consecutive penalty corners right at the death. But the Malaysians defended stoutly to go into the first break down by just one goal.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. Indian Affan Yousuf expertly steered past three Malaysian defenders before unleashing a reverse hit towards the goal. Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam patted it away to safety.
Malaysia picked up the pace in the final minutes of the quarter but despite several circle penetrations failed to create any real chances. The teams went into half time separated by India’s single goal.
The game opened up more in the third quarter as Malaysia chased the game. India were happy to sit back and work on the counter. Despite several circle penetrations, neither team created any real opportunities almost till the end of the third quarter.
In the final minute though, Raghunath capitalised on a pair of penalty corners to convert one and double India’s lead. Malaysia hit back almost from the restart, catching India’s defence unawares. Joel van Huizen’s goal took Malaysia into the final break down by a single goal.
India kept up the pressure in the final quarter. They constantly pressed high and won several turnovers.
Akashdeep was at the thick of things, first getting away a smart shot from inside the circle which was parried away by Kumar Subramiam. Soon after, he had another superb moment, dribbling away from Malaysia’s defence to cut back a pass to Talwinder Singh, whose first time chip deflection beat the goalkeeper to complete India’s third goal.
Now India were in total control and were adamant to not let Malaysia back into the match. In the 58th minute, they had another penalty corner. Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake in slotting the ball to the bottom right corner to give India a 4-1 winner.