Continuing their clinical run, India defeated Malaysia 2-1 in the finals of Hero Asia Cup hockey tournament in Dhaka, Bangladesh to clinch the title after 10 long years. After demolishing Pakistan 4-0 yesterday the Indian attackers toyed around with Malaysian defenders and ensured a comfortable victory for the Men in Blue. Ramandeep Singh opened the scoring for India in the first quarter when he flicked in a lovely pass from SV Sunil on the right flank into an unguarded goal as the keeper came forward to prevent the shot and paid the price. Malaysia started pressing hard in search of an equalizer but failed to grab nay in the first quarter. Pushing forth Malaysians were rewarded with a penalty corner towards the end of the first quarter but the opportunity was wasted. Shahril Saabah scored the lone goal for Malaysia in the final.
Lalit Upadhyay doubled the lead in the second quarter when he stroked off a brilliant counter move from Akashdeep. India held the Malaysian attack well keeping the defence tight and not allowing any movement near the post. Sardar Singh, in particular, was phenomenal with his striding forward, he combined with Sumit at times to scare the opponent’s backline and get the ball back of the nets for India. Malaysia almost did some great work and penetrated the India defence before India’s second goal but India were unharmed in the quest.
Lalit Upadhyay wasted an open opportunity in the third quarter when they could have easily struck a few. Lalit had an open goal ahead of him but the forward dashed wide and missed. Ramandeep Singh added two more misses in the third quarter right when India would have expected a daunting overrun with huge goal difference.
India started the 4th quarter with a 2-0 lead but Malaysian forward Shahril got better of the Indian defence and got the first one for Malaysia. The goal came with just 10 minutes left in the encounter but India held their nerve and emerged victorious. The last 10 minutes of defence was the most crucial hockey India would play in the final and they did just defence, killing time between themselves while the Malaysian came haunting for the goal. In the last moments of the match, Malaysia even pulled their goalkeeper off with 11 players on the field but couldn’t do enough to see the ball past Indian keeper.
Malaysia did all they could have to find the equalising goal which would see the final go into a penalty shootout but India held the defence strong and neutralized all the challenges from their opponents.