India started the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) as title favourites, and they have justified their tag with some incredible performances with goals galore. However, their biggest test will lie against hosts Malaysia, who have won three straight matches so far, on Wednesday.
This match is of utmost importance to both teams in the competition as India and Malaysia are placed first and second respectively in the ACT table. If India manages to defeat Malaysia on their home turf, Roelant Oltmans' men can clinch first place in the standings table. Team that finishes first after the round robin stages will play the fourth placed team in the semi-finals.
India have been ruthless in front of goals against weaker oppositions scoring nine goals against China, and ten past Japan. They also showed some strong character to come back from 1-2 down to defeat Pakistan. However, their performance against South Korea remains to be their weakest performance as they were held to a 1-1 draw.
India's game against Malaysia is their last match of the round robin stages, and they have come well prepared to deliver their A game against the hosts. Coach Oltmans is aware of the threat Malaysia, who are always well supported at home, brings to the table.
"We know that the game against Malaysia will be a tough one. Playing Malaysia in Malaysia is a serious match for any side," Press Trust of India quoted Oltmans as saying.
If India play like the way they have been playing specially in the offensive front, with Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh scoring field goals at will, and Rupinder Pal Singh being amazing with his penalty corner conversions, the visitors could pip Malaysia. But, their defence needs to step up a gear as one has seen that teams have opened their back line quite easily and Malaysia is such a team that does not need much invitation to score goals.
Malaysia, after their impressive win against Pakistan, have played some entertaining hockey like India, scoring goals. They defeated China and Japan quite easily, but they know about the tough task in hand against India. With players like Faizal Saari and Firhan Ashari with four and three goals respectively to their name, they are a threat and India need to watch out for these players closely.
Malaysian coach Steven van Huizen wants his players to shine against India to emerge victorious. "We respect India as a team. We'll have to play well to match them," said the hosts' gaffer.
Where to watch live
India vs Malaysia Men's Asian Champions Trophy 2016 match is scheduled for 6 pm IST. The match will be shown live on Star Sports 4/HD, with live streaming option on Hotstar.