Four Nations Hockey: India Beat Malaysia 4-2, Record First Victory of the Tournament
Nikkin Thimmaiah. (Image credit: Nikkin Thimmaiah/Facebook)
Melbourne: India beat Malaysia 4-2 in their round robin encounter at the Four Nations Invitational Tournament held here in Melbourne on Thursday.
In an exciting game, that was close for long periods, India showed their quality in the final stages, pushing up a gear to dismiss Malaysia and earn their first points at the tournament.
India were the dominant team in the opening periods of the game, pressing high and consistently effecting turnovers to keep Malaysia pegged back in their own half. Despite the overwhelming possession, there weren't many clear chances created as Malaysia's deep defence held firm. The two teams went into the first break locked in a stalemate.
There was more of the same in the second quarter, India dominant in the midfield but were unable to find a breakthrough in the final third. This lasted till the 24th minute of the match. Sardar Singh was the one at the fulcrum of the chance, capitalising on a Malaysian mistake to launch the attack. His pass found Satbir Singh, who laid it off to Nikkin Thimmaiah at the edge of the circle. Nikkin dummied the defender and cut into the circle, before unleashing a shot into the bottom corner to give India a 1-0 lead which India held on to as they went into halftime.
Nine minutes into the third quarter, Malaysia hit back with the equaliser, Faizal Saari, converting a PC to draw them level. The parity didn't last long though, as India won themselves their first PC almost from the restart. From the PC, Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake, to restore India's lead.
The teams went into the final break with India leading 2-1.
Malaysia had a flurry of PCs in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Shahril Saabah converted the second to draw them level, setting the stage for a superb finish.
The equaliser from Malaysia served as a blessing in disguise for India as they stepped up their game and started being more assertive with their possession, making more penetrations into the Malaysian circle. For their part, a lot of the play was patient, slow in the build-up but more precise. The dominance on the ball paid off in the 55th minute, Nikkin scoring his second of the game to restore India's lead.
India were now in the ascendancy and had pushed up a gear. Within a minute Akashdeep Singh scored a fourth goal to ensure there would be no nervous moments at the end as India held on for a 4-2 victory.
The next match is scheduled to be played between India and New Zealand on 26 November 2016 at 11.30 am IST.