India started their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup campaign on a winning note by defeating Japan 2-1.
India came back from a goal down to clinch the game against Japan, which had about nine players making their international debut. Sardar Singh and Harmanpreet Singh saved the blushes for the Indian team.
In the second match, Australia thrashed India 5-1 and exhibited their dominance over the Asian champions.
India played their heart out against the Canadians. The Sardar Singh-led team dominated the proceedings and won the match.
With medal chance at stake, India thrashed their arch-rivals Pakistan 5-1 and boosted their chances for making it to the finals.
But their defence crumbled against the defending champions New Zealand. New Zealand defeated India 2-1.
The last meeting between India and Malaysia was in the World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp last year. India’s 3-2 victory shattered Malaysia’s hopes for Olympic qualification.
Australia is still on top of the standings with 18 points, followed by New Zealand on 11 points. India has nine points from five matches and their fate will rest on the show against Malaysia.
Prepping for Rio
In 2016, India, led by Sardar Singh, has the big task of living up to great expectations at the Rio Olympics. If fans of Indian hockey are to be satisfied, the team needs to win at least silver here.
A seventh Azlan Shah victory will be good preparation for the Olympics starting in August. India has already won one match and lost to the reigning champions Australia in another.
A failure for India in this tournament will have a telling effect on their preparation for the Olympics. Roelant Oltmans, the coach, is confident that India will perform well.
Keywords: 25th Sultan Azlan Shah cup hockey tournament, India versus Malaysia hockey match