A profligate Indian hockey team huffed and puffed into the Commonwealth Games semifinals after beating lower-ranked Malaysia 2-1 in a draining Pool B encounter at Gold Coast, Australia. The Indian men fought hard as they dominated possession and were quick on the counter-attack.
Drag Flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh (3rd minute and 44th minute) scored twice from penalty corners to steer India to the win. Faizal Saari (16th minute) pulled off the lone goal for Malaysia.
India earned as many as nine penalty corners during the match, the first of which came just two minutes into the game. Harmanpreet converted it to give the team an early advantage.
The Malaysians claimed one of their own in the sixth minute but Razie Rahim missed out on the opportunity to equalise for his team.
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The Indian men's hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne was quite content with the result and said that the team has improved since their encounter with arch-rivals Pakistan.
"We are happy to be on the winning side. I think the team has improved since our first match against Pakistan. Though there are still certain areas we must get better with, this win will give the team a good momentum for the next match," stated Marijne.
However, Malaysia did not have to wait too long to put themselves on the scoreboard as Faizal Saari sounded the board with a field goal in the 16th minute.
India had the chance to reclaim the lead but Varun Kumar failed to convert a penalty corner, hitting it wide in the 18th minute.
In the 22nd minute, Mandeep Singh came close to scoring but his attempt was saved by Malaysian goalkeeper Hairi Abd Rahman.
Indian goalkeeper P R Sreejesh produced a strong performance to thwart the Malaysian onslaught in the second half, including two penalty corner saves.
India had a chance to consolidate the lead but Harmanpreet missed out on completing a hat-trick when his penalty corner shot was saved by Rahman in the 58th minute.
(With PTI Inputs)