Asian Champions Trophy: India Script Epic Comeback To Defeat Malaysia For Fourth Title

photo: Twitter/Hockey India)

Chennai: The Indian men’s hockey team on Saturday produced a resilient performance and staged an incredible comeback to defeat Malaysia 4-3, clinching its fourth Asian Champions Trophy title here at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai.

Malaysia took control of the early tempo in the tense final. The ball was swiftly intercepted by India’s Akashdeep, who appeared to launch an immediate attack. Azrai of Malaysia attempted to enter the Indian circle from the left side, but Harmanpreet’s strong defence immediately stopped him.

Vivek Prasad played a critical role in saving India when Saari sought to pull the ball away inside the circle following a fluid build-up play by Malaysia on the right flank. Vivek’s interception and subsequent right flank charge was a crucial counterattack. Selvam Karthi was poorly tackled, earning India a penalty corner. The stage was created for Jugraj, who scored India’s first goal in the ninth minute with a strong drag flick that he rocketed past the Malaysian custodian and defenders.

Malaysian player Arzai quickly equalised the score after Hasan’s pass was deflected in the 14th minute. The scores were tied at 1-1 as the first quarter came to a close. Malaysia gained control in the second period by utilising their penalty corners.

In the second quarter, Malaysia turned up the heat. India found themselves two goals down for the first time in the competition as they were able to take advantage of weaknesses in the Indian defence and score twice from four penalty corners.

Razie Rahim, made it 2-1 in the 18th minute, and Aminudin Muhamad’s drag-flick made it 3-1 two minutes before halftime.

In the third quarter, India chased the game with extreme intensity. Up until the very last second, when India launched a great counterattack following Malaysia’s unsuccessful penalty corner conversion, Malaysia withstood the pressure to deny India a significant opportunity.

Sukhjeet Singh’s excellent run caused a Malaysian defender to foul him from behind, awarding India a penalty shot. To close the gap, captain Harmanpreet Singh buried the ball into the top net.

Harmanpreet Singh was in the heart of the action once more with 30 seconds left, launching India’s attempt to equalise with a cutting pass to Karthi Selvam inside the circle. Gurjant Singh scored the equaliser after Sukhjeet Singh and Karthi Selvam combined.

Malaysia modified their strategy in the last quarter. From the depths of defence, Malaysia once more attempted to take the lead. But India managed to reverse the tables as Akashdeep Singh scored the winning goal in the 56th minute.

Hasan Azuan of Malaysia was given a five-minute ban, which left Malaysia with 10 men for the remaining four minutes of the game.

India tried to extend their lead in the last minutes by riding the momentum. The final score of the game, however, was 4-3 in India’s favour.

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