Sultan Azlan Shah Cup HockeyAfter a spirited start, India were frustrated by Korean defenders, who thwarted many of the moves that India made in the second half of their first match against Korea. The first day of the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Tournament ended at Ipoh with a 2-2 draw for India against Korea. In other matches, Australian veteran Jamie Dwyer made the most of his record-breaking 322nd appearance by scoring the fourth goal for his team as the Kookaburras began with a 7-0 thrashing of Canada and New Zealand defeated hosts Malaysia 4-2.

On Sunday, April 5, 2015, India began their campaign in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey by a first quarter strike from Nikkin Thimmaiah but later in the match, the Koreans raised their game several notches and went ahead 2-1 with four minutes left for the final whistle. Finally, it was the penalty-corner conversion from VR Raghunath that saved India the blues in their opening match. The Indians made a positive start by taking the attack into the Korean half but the first scoring opportunity came Korea’s way in the 6th minute. However, Ramandeep Singh made an impressive stop. In the 11th minute, India took the 1-0 lead, when Nikkin Thimmaiah scored a beautiful field goal. Towards the end of the first quarter, Korea attempted an equalizer but a Korean counter-attack was smartly thwarted by Birendra Lakra who hit the ball outside. The first quarter ended with India leading 1-0.

India continued with their attacking game as second quarter began. Ramandeep collected a pass from Dharamvir Singh and surged ahead but his shot was blocked by Korean goalkeeper. Korea also made some attacking moves and they succeeded in finding the equalizer in the 25th minute, when Hyun entered in the box and flicked into the net. The second quarter and halftime ended at the score reading 1-1.

India continued attacking Korea in the third quarter but missed some easy scoring chances. In the 32nd minute, a brilliant cross from Rupinder could not be trapped by Sardar and Dharamvir that could have been a certain goal. Korea also showed their attacking skills but PR Sreejesh made two successful saves to leave the third-quarter deadlocked at 1-1. The game reached its climax in the fourth quarter as both sides wanted to gain upper hand with only 15 minutes remaining. Things got from bad to worse for India as they were reduced to ten men following a green-card to Sardar Singh. The Koreans pressurized India’s defense and in 53rd minute, Kim Seong Kyu scored a magnificent goal to take his side 2-1 ahead. Fortunately for India, the day ended with VR Raghunath successfully converting a 56th minute penalty-corner from his drag-flick that found the back of the net to give India a 2-2 result in their first game.

In the first match of the day, Australia trounced Canada 7-0. Jamie Dwyer made his 322nd appearance for Australia and exhibited his undying penchant for scoring. The celebrated Australian has been part of his national side that won the Olympic gold medal and lifted the World Cup twice. On Sunday, Dwyer went past Jay Stacy’s record of most international hockey appearances. Stacy had retired in 2000 after playing 321 matches. For Australia, Tim Cross made a dream debut by scoring his first goal just 12 minutes into the match. Before the first quarter could end, another youngster Dylan Wotherspoon also scored his career’s first goal in just his fifth appearance as Australia led 2-0. Canada resisted bravely in the second quarter and didn’t allow the mighty Australians to enhance their lead. Until late in third quarter, the Kookaburras still had only the 2-0 lead but Eddie Ockenden made it 3-0 even as the third quarter ended. The fourth goal came from Dwyer and the last 10 minutes saw flurry of goals from Trent Mitton, Glenn Simpson and Jake Whetton as Australia romped home 7-0.

In the last match of the day, New Zealand beat host Malaysia 4-2. In the third minute, New Zealand earned a penalty corner and Nick Haig converted it successfully. Before the first quarter ended, captain Simon Child made it 2-0 for New Zealand. In the second quarter, Malaysia put up a spirited show and reduced the deficit, when Ramadan scored to make it 2-1. After halftime, Malaysians played even better and with seven minutes left; equalized through Sharun Nabil. But the Black Sticks mounted the pressure with time running out and regained their lead through a penalty corner conversion from Andy Hayward and soon afterwards, made it 4-2, when Shay Neal produced a brilliant last-minute field goal.