India picked their first win at the four-nation hockey tournament, defeating Malaysia 4-2 in Australia on Thursday. Two goals, one each from Nikkin Thimmaiah and Akashdeep Singh, in the final quarter yielded the positive result for India. Nikkin's 55th minute strike was his second of the day as he had scored in the 24th minute as well. Rupinder Pal Singh was the other goalscorer for India.
India started the match on a bright note, but besides Sardar Singh's stick work and his wizardy, there was nothing much to be happy about in the first quarter for India. In fact, it was Malaysia, who were gradually getting back into the game with some pressing play.
With the first quarter ending goalless, both teams were determined to break the deadlock in the second 15 minutes.
India managed to take lead in the 24th minute as Nikkin Thimmaiah fired a shot past the goalkeeper. Despite the goal, Malaysia did put pressure on India defence, which stood firm to their attack.
Malaysia came back into the game as Faizal Saari converted a penalty corner in the 39th minute. They earned the penalty corner after a reckless challenge, which could have been avoided, by VR Raghunath on the Malaysian player.
But India regained their lead in the next minute as Rupinder Pal Singh scored the third goal of the competition. The defender, as expected, converted the penalty corner. Two goals in a space of two minutes brought the game back to life, with both teams playing some wonderful hockey.
India received a good chance to have a two-goal cushion, but Akashdeep and Nikkin could not convert their chances in the opening minute of the last quarter. In fact, it was Malaysia, who once again drew level, with Shahril Saabah scoring in the 47th minute to make it 2-2.
The last quarter proved to be action-packed, with India scoring two more goals in the last five minutes to make it 4-2. Nikkin and Akashdeep scored in the final quarter to help India emerge victorious.