AZLAN SHAH CUP
Ipoh ( Malaysia) Five- time champions India squandered chances galore to slump to a 2- 3 defeat against Great Britain in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday.
Playing a brisk game, India failed
to capitalise on several opening created by their strikers, faltering in the final execution on numerous occasions.
After bouncing back from a two- goal deficit to draw parity, India gave it away through a defensive lapse in the 62nd minute when three defenders were beaten on top of the circle by a through ball that Nick Catlin picked up to score Great Britains match- winner.
Great Britain earlier scored two goals through penalty corners from Glen Kirkham ( 28th minute) and Ben Hawes ( 43rd). But India struck back to score twice in the space of four minutes through a penalty corner conversion from V R Raghunath ( 55th) and a dazzling deflection by S V Sunil ( 59th) to make a stunning return to the match.
With this win, Great Britain moved into the second position with four points from two matches, behind New Zealand who clinched their third successive victory by defeating Pakistan 3- 1 earlier in the day. Last years losing finalists Pakistan have three points from two outings, while India have slipped to the fifth spot with three points from as many matches.
Indias points came from a 2- 1 victory over South Korea, while they lost 1- 5 to New Zealand in their tournament opener.
Against Great Britain today India started on a brisk pace and held the ball early on, but wasted several chances. In the third minute, Sunil failed to capitalise on Tushar Khandekars cross from the right.
Great Britain asserted themselves to force two successive penalty corners in the 10th minute before India had another look at the rival goal when S K Uthappa sent a diagonal ball to Rupinder Pal Singh, who failed to connect with a diving attempt.
Great Britain opened the scoring in the 28th minute from their third penalty corner when Ashley Jacksons shot was blocked by goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, but Kirkham swung the rising ball into the goal to give his side the lead.
Hawes then shot on target from a set- piece penalty corner attempt to make it 2- 0 for Great Britain in the 43rd minute. Pushing hard to bounce back in the game, India got their first penalty corner when star striker Sandeep Singh was not on the pitch, but Raghunath stepped up to score with a soaring drag- flick in the 55th minute.
Four minutes later, righthalf Gurbaj Singh did the spadework by moving into the circle from right and sent in a cross that was deflected into the goal by Sunil. But Indias joy was
short- lived as Catlin capitalised restored Great Britains lead three minutes later when he beat goalkeeper Sreejesh with a reverse drive from an acute angle after receiving a through ball.
The Indians continued pressing, forcing two penalty corners in the 67th and 68th minutes, but they failed to convert the chances. While on first occasion Sandeeps low shot was brilliantly stopped by goalkeeper James Fair, Raghunaths flick was easily deflected out by onrushing Great Britain defenders on the next opportunity. India will next play hosts Malaysia tomorrow, while Great Britain will be up against Argentina.