Day two of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup saw India registered a 3-0 win over New Zealand. Japan went down 3-5 to Great Britain while hosts Malaysia went down 1-6 to Australia.
For the second consecutive day matches were affected by adverse weather conditions with the match between Great Britain and Japan delayed by an hour.
Hosts Malaysia had no answer to attacking display of the Australians. Two Australian players scored hat tricks – Tom Craig (11th, 38th, 44th) and Trent Mitton (23rd, 27th, 58th).
Malaysia scored their consolation through a penalty stroke converted by Faizal Saari in the 42nd minute.
“It was a far better performance then against New Zealand,” said Aussie coach Colin Batch.
“But we need to improve on our consistency and the one day break will be handy before we take on India.”
As for Malaysia, it was a rather lethargic performance coupled with loose marking.
“We were poor today but then again Australia are a class above,” condensed Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
“It’s back to the drawing boards as we cannot make such defensive errors against Great Britain whom we meet next.”
Earlier, the first match of the day saw India taking on New Zealand. Both the teams had drawn their opening matches on Saturday with India held to a 2-2 draw by Great Britain while New Zealand did well to hold Australia to a 1-1 draw.
Thus gaining full points from this match was on the minds of both teams. Though happy with the win, Indian coach Roelant Oltmans was not too pleased with the performance.
“I am happy with the result. But I am not happy with the way we performed, ” said Oltmans.
“After the first quarter we had completely dominated the game. “There is always room for improvement.
“The forwards played a better game today with seven penalty corners earned. Harmanpreet is learning a lot in penalty corners and the world will hear more of him. It’s only a matter of time he will be the world’s best drag-flick
Mandeep Singh deflected a bouncing ball past Richard Joyce in the 23rd minute via open play to go 1-0 ahead and Harmanpreet Singh swept a powerful drag flick three minutes before the end of the quarter to double the score.
Roelant Oltman’s India continued where they left off by scoring the third goal in the 47th minute off a fourth penalty corner through Harmanpreet and were back in the grove three minutes later with two more penalty corners but could not make any breakthrough.
New Zealand coach Darren Smith paid tribute to India for their outstanding performance.
“We did have some good things going for us t, especially in the first quarter. But India has always been a strong opposition,” conceded Darren.
“We will recover for the next game against Japan. It was a difficult test against India after coming through tough match against Australia on Saturday.
“India has a good penalty corner specialist in Harmanpreet and he made all the difference. But it is not over for us after this defeat.”
In the second match Great Britain played attacking hockey to edge Japan 5-3 in the second match of the day. But the win did not satisfy their coach Bobby Crutchley.
“I am not happy with our performance though we won tonight. I thought in many ways Japan was a better side. We simply had a sloppy performance” said Crutchley.
“We just gave the ball to Japan many times with absolute ease and we did not execute our game plan well. ”
Goal No 1 came just three minutes into the match via a good breakthrough from David Goodfield. The midfielder relayed the ball to a waiting Barry Middleton who tapped it past goalkeeper Suguru Shimmoto to give Britain an early lead.
While Middleton played a role in Britain’s opening goal act, it was Goodfield who carved his name on the scorecard in 12th minute to double the lead after picking a pass from Jonathan Griffith to slot the ball past an onrushing Suguru.
The Japanese, the lowest ranked team here at world No 16, surprised Britain with a quick raid two minutes later and reduced the deficit through Kenta Tanaka who sidestepped goalkeeper Harry Gibson to slot the ball into the net.
However, the joy in the Japanese camp was short lived as barely a minute later Sam Ward made it 3-1 from a goalmouth melee.
Suguru was replaced by Takashi Yoshikawa but let in a soft goal from Tom Carson in the 32nd minute from their third penalty corner attempt.
But what was expected to be an easy night for Great Britain turned out to be a nightmare as Japan came back blasting goal No 2 in the 39th minute via Tanaka while Kota Watanabe made it 4-3 by the 49th minute from open play.
Great Britain, however, escaped with dignity and pride intact on a cold night, thanks once again to the brilliant fightback from Alan Forsyth – the man who threw a spanner in India’s plans following a late goal to force a 2-2 draw on Saturday – with a 52nd field goal .
“We are very happy with the way we played against Great Britain. The only sad part is we lost many points and we intend to win some lost points in our remaining matches,” said Japan coach Takahiko Yamabori.