India begin with a 1-1 draw with Malaysia

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New Delhi, Dec 1: Saba Anjum's equaliser five minutes from time saved the day for India as the hosts drew 1-1 with Malaysia in their first round robin league match of the Four-Nation Shastri Women's Hockey tournament here today.

India eves dominated most part of the match at the Shivaji Stadium but conceded a goal early in the second half (39th), scored by Malysian forward Hashim Norbaini and had to toil hard before Anjum (65th) saved India the blushes with the last-gasped goal.

The hosts got two scoring chances in the goal-less first half but in both occasions seasoned Saba Anjum failed to find the target.

First, Anjum's reverse flick from the top of the circle in the 14th minute went wide and in the second attempt she failed to slam home from a narrow angle near the right post of Malaysia goal three minutes from the breather.

India also wasted the penalty corner they got in the 22nd minute.

Malaysian mainly made their moves from counter attcks and from one such move, Din Juliani's deflection kissed the left post of Indian goal and three minutes later, man-of-the-match Rahiman Nadia's push from a penalty corner was well saved by Indian goalkeeper Dipika Murthy.

India paid the price of sloppy defence early in the second session and a fast counter attack by the Malaysians in the 39th minute caught the Indian backline on the wrong foot and an unmarked Hashim Norbaini's shot landed high on the net after beating Indian goalkeeper.

The goal jolted the Indians out of complacency and they went for all out attack till the end. Captain Mamta Kharab went upfront to look for goals.

But, the Malaysians were equal to the task. They ran hard, crowded the defence and tapped the ball well to deny the Indians space to hit from inside the circle.

India made several attacks but failed to find a clear opening.

The only chance before the equaliser came was in the 44th minute but Mamta muffed it.

Pradhan also wasted a penalty corner with her push flying high outside the pitch instead of reaching her team-mates to take strike.

The hosts were, however, saved from disaster of starting the tournament with a loss. After incessant attack, a Suman Bala long push from inside the Malysian half got past a couple of Malysian defenders and landed near the goalmouth to Saba Anjum who gently tapped it into the goal to the relief of a moderate crowd at the Shivaji Stadium.

Earlier in the first match, Azerbaijan came out with a strong performance in the second session to beat Italy 4-2.

The two teams were tied 1-1 in the first half with goals from Zeynalova Zarifahon (22nd) for Azerbaijan and Scandroli Carolina (25th) for Italy.

After resumption, Azerbaijan did most of the attacking to pump in three goals in four minutes and ran away with three full points.

Nuriyeva Liana (49th), Aliyeva Mi Kyong (52nd) and captain Mirzaliyeva Dilfuza (53rd) found the target for the winners.

Possali Daniela pulled one back for Italy in the 58th minute.

India play Azerbaijan while Malaysia take on Italy tomorrow.

UNI

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