The Indian junior men's hockey team defeated Malaysia 4-2 in their first match of the 9th Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Bahru on Saturday. Pratap Lakra (19', 33'), Shilanand Lakra (39') and Uttam Singh (60') scored for India, while Muhammad Hassan (8') and Muhammad Zainudin (9') notched goals for Malaysia. (More Hockey News)
Malaysia started the first quarter in an aggressive note. Muhammad Hassan and Muhammad Zainudin found the back of the net in the eighth and ninth minutes respectively. Hassan put Malaysia ahead with a field goal before Zainudin converted a penalty corner. India tried to make a few inroads, but the Malaysian defense stood strong. India and Malaysia kept getting into great positions, but the score remained 2-0. India and Malaysia were toe-to-toe with each other for the rest of the quarter as the teams went into the first break.
India got off to a great start in the second quarter and earned a penalty corner, however, the Malaysian defense blocked out the Indian attack. A few minutes later, India pulled one back through a fantastic Penalty Stroke by Pratap Lakra. India continued to be the more aggressive side and kept looking for openings. India's persistence paid dividends when they earned a penalty corner just before the half-time whistle. However, the Malaysian defense unit stood firm once again. Malaysia led at 2-1 at the end of the first half.
India rode on the momentum and leveled the match at the start of the third quarter. Pratap Lakra converted a penalty corner in an exquisite manner. India continued to put pressure on the Malaysian defense and earned the lead for the first time in the match through a fantastic penalty corner conversion by Shilanand Lakra in the 39th minute. India continued to be the dominant side as they led 3-2 at the end of the third quarter.
India remained on the attack in the fourth quarter as well, but the Malaysian defense unit managed to block out everything thrown at them. The home side tried to fight back through some crucial moves, however, India ensured that they stayed in the lead. India created goal-scoring opportunities, but couldn't find the back of the net. India had an excellent chance to score their fourth goal when they earned a penalty corner in the dying minutes of the match, but the attack was saved by the Malaysian defense. However, Uttam Singh scored a brilliant field goal in the last minute of the match to help India walk off the field as winners.
India will face New Zealand in their next round-robin league-stage match in Johor Bahru at 1535 hrs IST on Sunday.