A second-half brace from Akashdeep Singh helped India defeat Malaysia 3-2 in the Hockey World Cup at The Hague on Saturday. The result, at a packed GreenFields Stadium, gave India its first win in the tournament.
India is now fourth in Group A, behind England with four points, and is slated to play defending champions Australia in its last group match on Monday. Malaysia are yet to open their account after losing all four encounters so far.
India enjoyed most of the possession in the first-half and created a number of decent scoring opportunities. Jasjeet Singh Kular opened the scoring for India in the 14th minute on a miss-trapped penalty corner push. He gathered the ball inside the circle and rifled it past Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam.
Malaysia struggled to match the pace and skills of India and looked a step slower. Their goalkeeper Subramiam, however, kept them within touching distance by denying the Indians on a number of occasions, including blocking VR Raghunath's drag flick early on in the second half.
Malaysia got the equaliser in the 46th minute when a drag flick from Razie Abdul Rahim went into the goal, after taking a deflection off one of the Indian defenders. But India responded with two quick goals from Akashdeep and stamped their authority in the match.
The first goal from Akashdeep's stick came in the 49th minute when a fine deflection deceived the goalkeeper, while the second goal came in the 51st minute when he chipped one over Subramiam's head into the goal after skipper Sardar Singh's impressive build-up play.
Both teams played the final 10 minutes at blistering pace, and Malaysia succeeded in pulling one back in the 61st minute through Marhan Jalil. India survived a few nervy moments in the dying stages and got all three points from the tie.
"The guys are doing a really wonderful job because match by match we are really improving and playing consistent hockey," captain Sardar said. "We are happy to win our first game."
Meanwhile, Australia demolished England 5-0 in the third Group A match at the Kyocera Stadium. The Kookaburras scored their first goal as early as in the 13th second when Matt Gohdes slammed the ball into the net.
The defending champions then scored through Liam de Young in the 13th minute and Jamie Dwyer in the 30th minute. Kieran Govers then converted a terrific aerial ball on Mark Knowles' pass and Aran Zawelski completed the scoring in the 38th minute.
"When I came to the ground I would have been happy with a draw, because that would have got us to the big games," Australia's coach Ric Charlesworth said. "The first quarter of the game was a bit of an arm wrestle, but then we scored the goals. I would have liked to have seen more chances put away in the second half."