India held to disappointing draw by Malaysia
Melbourne, Mar 17 (UNI) A disjointed India missed chances galore and played out a disappointing 1-1 draw against Malaysia in their opening league match of the men's hockey competition in the Commonwealth Games here today.
For the Indians, who trailed 0-1 at half time, the goal scorer was Sandeep Singh (44th), while Muhamad Amin Rahim converted a stroke for Malaysia in the 25th minute.
Indians thus earned only one point instead of three, which they should have claimed, and now have a daunting opponent in Pakistan against whom they play tomorrow.
A disappointed coach Rajinder Singh said, ''What can you do if experienced players miss good chances. At this level of competition when even half chances are rare to get, you miss open goals.'' The forwards, especially Deepak Thakur and Tejbir Singh missed open chances and then Tushar Khandekar added to the woes by muffing up couple of good openings.
The Indians made a sluggish start and their forwards took time to settle down and for once even the dependable midfielders looked clueless. The Malaysians on the other hand were far more focused and played a disciplined game. They could not score more because of some superb goalkeeping by Indian custodian Bharat Chettri.
India conceded the goal in the 25th minute when a stroke was awarded against them. Prior to this, the Asia Cup winners were reduced to 10 men when Sandeep Singh was shown a yellow card for locking his stick with a rival forward and the Malaysians took advantage of the situation.
Tengku Ahmad made a move from the right but Chettri in an attempt to foil the attack felled the Malaysian and New Zealand umpire S Taylor awarded the stroke.
Muhamad Rahim made no mistake in converting it to give his side the lead.
Chettri, however, made amends for this with some stunning goalkeeping in the later part of the game.
Rattled by the goal, Indians went flat out on the attack but forwards failed to combine. Rajpal in the right with Deepak Thakur in the centre and Tushar Khandekar on the left along with Arjun Halappa could not make deep thrust into the rival defence.
Indians desperately tried to earn penalty corners but could manage only two, one in each half, and Malaysians with some incisive counter attacks and good turn arounds kept the pressure on their rivals.
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