India’s road to Azlan Shah Cup title

April 12th, 2009 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Ipoh (Malaysia), April 12 (IANS) It was an early jolt from debutant Egypt that shook India up from a slumber en route to their fourth title win in Azlan Shah Cup hockey here Sunday.
India beat Malaysia 3-1 in the final to lift the Azlan Shah Cup after 13 years, but not before making a heavy weather of it and raising their game just in time to reach the final.

India entered the tournament as favourites as the field was depleted. Egypt were making their debut and New Zealand were without some key players. Malaysia and Pakistan were tougher opponents but India had a fine mix of youth and experience.

India were expected to thrash Egypt. Instead, their age-old problem of conceding late goals saw them draw 2-2 with the minnows.

Harendra Singh’s boys then pulled up the socks in their next league match and beat Malaysia 3-0 with skipper Sandeep Singh, Shivendra Singh and Arjun Halappa sounding the board.

But in the third match against New Zealand, India were again haunted by a late equaliser from Joseph Bartholomew. Drag flick expert Sandeep showed fine form, scoring two goals but that did not stop New Zealand from drawing parity in the 63rd minute to make it 2-2.

It was a do-or-die situation for India in their last league match against arch-rivals Pakistan.

Sandeep led from the front in the crucial encounter, converting two penalty corners as India beat Pakistan 2-1 to book their fifth final appearance.

In the final, Halappa, Shivendra and Prabhjot Singh scored for India.

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