Lacklustre India hold Malaysia 1-1

Updated: 02 December 2007 07:06 IST

Favourites India displayed a lacklustre performance to hold a lower-ranked Malaysia to a 1-1 draw in their opening encounter in New Delhi.

Lacklustre India hold Malaysia 1-1

New Delhi:

Favourites India displayed a lacklustre performance to hold a lower-ranked Malaysia to a 1-1 draw in their opening encounter of the Lal Bahadur Shastri four-nation women's hockey tournament in New Delhi today.

The hosts spoilt several opportunities and allowed Malaysia to take a 1-0 lead through a chance goal by Hashim Norbani (39th minute). However, Saba Anjum's deflection (65th) at the death save the blushes for the 13th-ranked India.

The new-look Indian forwardline, led by captain Mamta Kharab, neither had the rhythm nor the understanding. Their game after the 25-yard line was utterly pathetic as they missed one chance after another to allow the pressure build on them.

Inside the first 10 minutes, a couple of Suman Bala hits into the circle could not be put into the goal.

India again missed out on grabbing the lead as a free hit from outside the Malaysian D reached Saba Anjum and her shot with a reverse stick went wide.

The hosts' frustration spiralled as they could not capitalise on a penalty corner in the 20th minute and then bungled another opportunity in front of an open goal.

The Indians went into the interval with drooping shoulders and were unable to lift their spirits even after the break.

Malaysia took advantage of the disjointed performance of the Indians as Hashim Norbani achieved the breakthrough for her team just four minutes after the change of ends.

The lack of planning up-front was evident as the home team continued with their erroneous passing and tried to breach the Malaysian defence through the centre.

With the clock ticking fast, pressure piled up on India who were clueless about how to avoid a looming defeat.

Luck finally smiled on the hosts as a Suman Bala shot was deflected in by Anjum just five minutes before the hooter.

However, a few jittery moments were still left for Mamta and her teammates as the 24th-ranked Malaysians forced upon a penalty corner in the final moments.

India finally heaved a sigh of relief as they prevented Malaysia from walking away with three valuable points and gained one because of the draw.

Blaming the forwardline for the draw against a weaker team, India coach G S Bhangu said the strikers did not have good understanding among themselves.

"There was lack of understanding among the strikers. We were unable to handle the ball in the 25-yard area. Our team tried to score off deflections and missed several chances. At least 22 times the ball was sent into the 'D', but we ended up in a draw," Bhangu said, adding the forwardline needed to get its act together in the next match against Italy on Sunday.

He said the induction of several new players in the side was one of the reasons behind India's dismal performance.

"There are six new players in the team. I did not want to play our injured experienced players as I want them to get fit for the Olympic qualifiers," the coach said.

Bhangu, however, was satisfied with the work of the defenders and midfielders.

"As far as formation of the team is concerned I am satisfied. We did well in defence and midfield and had a good control over the game," he said.

With the clock ticking fast, pressure piled up on India who were clueless about how to avoid a looming defeat. Luck finally smiled on the hosts as a Suman Bala shot was deflected in by Anjum just five minutes before the hooter.

However, a few jittery moments were still left for Mamta and her teammates as the 24th-ranked Malaysians forced upon a penalty corner in the final moments.

India finally heaved a sigh of relief as they prevented Malaysia from walking away with three valuable points and gained one because of the draw.

Blaming the forwardline for the draw against a weaker team, India coach G S Bhangu said the strikers did not have good understanding among themselves.

"There was lack of understanding among the strikers. We were unable to handle the ball in the 25-yard area. Our team tried to score off deflections and missed several chances. At least 22 times the ball was sent into the 'D', but we ended up in a draw," Bhangu said, adding the forwardline needed to get its act together in the next match against Italy on Sunday.

He said the induction of several new players in the side was one of the reasons behind India's dismal performance.

"There are six new players in the team. I did not want to play our injured experienced players as I want them to get fit for the Olympic qualifiers," the coach said.

Bhangu, however, was satisfied with the work of the defenders and midfielders.

"As far as formation of the team is concerned I am satisfied. We did well in defence and midfield and had a good control over the game," he said.



Topics : Hockey
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