India lose 1-2 to Malaysia

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India suffers a shock 1-2 defeat to hosts Malaysia in 3rd match of Champions Challenge Hockey Tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Kuala Lumpur:

Continuing their downward slide in the tournament, India suffered a shock 1-2 defeat at the hands of hosts Malaysia in their third match of the Champions Challenge Hockey Tournament at the Bukit Jalil hockey stadium here today. India, who were held to a 2-2 draw by South Africa on Saturday after barely managing to defeat Belgium in their opening game, remained on four points after this loss and will now have to win their remaining two matches if they are to make it to the final. Malaysia climbed to the top of the table with nine points and are in a position of strength to move into the final. India, even with such stalwarts in their ranks as Prabhjot Singh, Baljit Singh Dhillon and Dhanraj Pillay, played defensively and lost despite leading 1-0 at half time. Malaysia found the equaliser in the second half and with score tied at 1-1, India missed a stroke when Jugraj Singh, who had a terrible match, rolled the ball towards the post. It was only after this muffed chance that Malaysia started piling on the pressure and they were helped in the process by a yellow card given to Baljit Dhillon. The hosts got the match-winner through Keevan Raj in the 58th minute. Earlier in the first half, Malaysia started in a whirlwind fashion entering the Indian striking circle five times and even earning a penalty corner in the sixth minute. The hosts could have taken the lead in the fourth minute but Mohd Radzi's deflection went off Indian keeper Jude Menezes' chest and out of play. Malaysia were applying pressure and keeping ball possession, pushing the Indians to defend. A few moves from Baljit Dhillon and Dhanraj Pillay couldn't penetrate the Malaysian defence well marshalled by Maninderjit Singh. Ten minutes into the first half, India finally settled down and played within their half, keeping the ball to themselves. Baljit Singh Dhillon made his first move in the 12th minute, racing through the middle but was elbowed out by Keevan Raj, who was then handed a yellow card. Malaysia, down to ten men, pulled a player back into defence. Seizing the opportunity India engaged in some lightning moves. A penalty corner was wasted in the 15th minute when Jugraj Sing's flick just sailed over the crossbar. India had another penalty corner in the 22nd minute but this too was wasted as Baljit Dhillon, in trying to find Pillay's stick for a deflection, sent the ball out by the far post. India, finally managed to take the lead in the 24th minute when after snatching the ball in the midfield, Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur moved up in tandem. Entering the circle, Deepak Thakur passed the ball to Prabhjot who cut past a Malaysian defender and after drawing the Malaysian goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin out, neatly shot the ball past his pads. Just before the break, Prabhjot had another chance with only Roslan in goal but he slipped as his stick went over the ball. At the break, India led 1-0. Immediately after the break, India had three penalty corners but wasted them all. Their misfortune compounded when Baljit tried a stick-charge and was sent out with a yellow card. Malaysia got the equaliser after the Indians cracked under pressure and instead of sending the ball into the corner, scooped it high where Malaysia began the attack that ended with a rasping drive from Chua Boon Huat, which completely beat Jude Menezes in goal. In the 54th minute, Deepak Thakur and Pillay moved in and Pillay, when he was just about to take a shot, was stopped bodily by Maninderjit in the Malaysian defence. The resultant stroke if converted could have given the lead to India but Jugraj Singh virtually rolled the flick onto the post. The match-winner for Malaysia came in the 58th minute off their third penalty corner. Indirectly taken, the ball was squeezed into the left corner where Keevan Raj deflected it into the goal. India had their 6th penalty corner and Baljit Dhillon's flick was saved by Maninderjit who skied it high with the stick over his head. It was a stroke that should have been given but India were already late and could hardly rue the chance. India now have two matches, against Japan and Argentina and they will have to win both to be in a position to make it to the final. (PTI)

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