Hockey IndiaThree matches were played on the second day of 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Tournament at Ipoh in Malaysia on April 6, 2015. In the first, Canada put behind their big defeat by Australia on opening day and played a spirited game against Korea. They took an early lead in the match before finally losing 1-3. The second match saw a spirited and organized India lose their match 1-2 against New Zealand and India’s impressive start came to no avail. As the match neared full-time, India conceded a goal due to their sloppy defending. With one drawn game and a loss thereafter, India are poorly placed at this stage of the competition. The Black Sticks have won both their matches in style just as the Kookaburras, who also won on Monday against hosts Malaysia 3-2. It wasn’t an easy victory for Australia as they needed to counter a strong challenge from the Malaysians. But whatever way the win came, it still gave the Australians two victories in two matches and that would count in the final analysis.

In the day’s first match, Canada made Korea toil for a victory despite their least favorite status. Keeping their defense strong, Canada took the lead in 11th minute, when Richard Hildreth pounced on a loose ball in a goal-mouth melee and sounded the board to shock the Koreans. The elated Canadians continued to build on the lead but failed to convert a penalty corner they earned and ended the first quarter with a 1-0 lead. In the second quarter, Korea played an attacking game and pushed the Canadians in their own half. Korea snatched the equalizer in the 22nd minute, when they moved forward in a counter-attack and Kim Seongkyu sent the ball into goal. Having equalized, Koreans began dominating and extracted a penalty corner in the 27th minute. Korea’s Nam Hyunwoo struck cleanly to take his team to a 2-1 lead. The second quarter ended at this score but Canada didn’t allow any more goals in third quarter. In the last quarter, however, Korea made it 3-1 in 54th minute, when Jang Jongyun scored from another penalty corner and Koreans ended as winners.

In the second match, India faced New Zealand. India didn’t have the services of Mandeep Singh, who couldn’t recover from the ankle injury he suffered during the match against Korea on Sunday. It rained heavily and the match couldn’t start in time. When the rain stopped, the teams took the field and New Zealand went into the attack. They would have scored in the 4th minute but Hugo Inglis shot wide with only India goalkeeper P R Sreejesh to beat. Despite this early attack from the Black Sticks, India controlled the early part of the game. Just when the match was settling into a good rhythm, heavy showers stopped the match yet again for about 10 minutes. On resumption, India had a scoring opportunity in 14th minute but an unmarked Ramandeep Singh spoiled the chance by hitting the pads of the New Zealand goalkeeper. In fact, it was India, who dominated the first half of the match with better possession and ball control. In the third quarter, however, India made errors in their defense that allowed the Black Sticks to seize control. A field goal from captain Simon Child in 38th minute from a pass by Shay Neal took New Zealand ahead 1-0. But India equalized 5 minutes later, when Akashdeep Singh scored after receiving a ball from Raghunath. With 5 minutes left for full time, India let their guards down and allowed a penalty corner, which Andy Hayward converted. No more goals accrued in the remaining time and India ended up as losers in their second match.

In the last match on Monday, Malaysia literally pulled the rug from under the Australians’ legs in an entertaining contest. Though Australia scraped through 3-2 in the end, it was not before the Malaysians gave them some terrific jitters. After the scoreless first and second quarters, Australia opened their account late into the third quarter. Hafiq Shamsul’s dangerous obstruction of Glenn Simpson resulted in Australia getting a penalty corner in the 43rd minute. Captain Jamie Dwyer made no mistake in hitting past a diving S Kumar to give his side the 1-0 lead. Dwyer scored once again in the 53rd minute after he connected to a pass from Glenn Simpson. But just as it appeared that Australia had the cushion, Malaysia pulled one back when Firhan Ashari came up with a brilliant field goal solely on individual efforts. Two minutes later, Australia made it 3-1, when Dylan Wotherspoon came up with a great field goal. As everyone waited for the final whistle, Malaysia earned a penalty corner. Tengku Ahmad struck Malaysia’s second goal from a lovely drag flick but it was too late in the match to find an equalizer and the Kookaburras emerged 3-2 winners.