India beat Malaysia 2-1 to reach Azlan Shah final

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Ipoh, Malaysia, May 17 (UNI) Riding on first half strikes by drag flickers Shivendra Singh and Sandeep Singh, India continued their winning streak to edge out hosts Malaysia 2-1 and reach the final of the 17th Azlan Shah hockey tournament here today.

India has thus reached the final for the first time in 12 years.

They had bagged the bronze in the last two editions of the tournament.

The Indians dominated proceedings right from the word go, playing all out attacking hockey.

They struck in the ninth minute when Shivendra Singh deflected in a free hit from outside the circle by Sandeep Singh.

They increased their lead in very next minute, Sandeep Singh firing home from a penalty corner.

The Malaysian forwards hardly got a chance to make their presence felt. However, they increased their tempo in the second half as they tried to stage a comeback but the Indian defence held firm.

The hosts managed to grab a consolation in the very last minute as Mohammad Amin Rahim converted a penalty croner.

Coach AK Bansal was relieved after the win and was happy with his boys' performannce.

''There was pressure on us. We needed a win to reach the final,'' Bansal told mediapersons after the match.

''Malaysia was not a better team than us, but they had the advantage of home conditions and the home crowd0,'' he added.

India will now meet Argentina in the summit clash tomorrow.

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