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Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2013
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Azlan Shah Cup: All about Killer instinct (3/22/2013)
--K. Arumugam
‘Killer instinct’ is the frequently used phrase in sports to adore winning teams, recapture stunning moments and qualify sports climaxes. Killer instinct is that inherent attribute which drives sports to its elixir levels, pulls crowd, craves eye balls out of spectators.

Yet the Killer instinct defies proper definition.

When seemingly a winning team loses out, say a score of 5-0 becomes 5-5 or 5-6, the question arises is, doesn’t the losing team have killer instinct after establishing a good, almost unsurpassable lead? What is it that decided the outcome? Is inability to protect winning position anti-thesis of what Killer instinct stands for?

undefined These questions prompt this article, written after critical study of matches, the way the fate of (result) matches were decided in the recent Azlan Shah Cup.

Qualification and quantification of Killer Instinct is a difficult task, but some a critical look at the way the winning teams organized themselves in crucial moments, mostly dying moments, in Ipoh shed adequate lights on the elusive subject.

The title clash between the hosts and Australia, that went in favour of latter 3-2, certainly ignites one’s approach to the game. Tireless Trent Mitton, struck a grounder trapping a freehit from midfield (Rob Hammond) in a melee just 4, 5 seconds left for the game to stretch into the extra time a fate the Malaysians worked for and wanted to.

Young Australian team put its best foot forward, and tried its level best – in the last five minutes, it attacked more than the sum of its previous 65 minutes – to avoid what the hosts thought is their take away, and saw to it the issues of result is settled within full play time.

Its not that Australia alone did that, that too, only once. This writer did not form opinion based one stray result however strange and strong it is. Australia did the same heroism in some more matches too. Its not that this was only Australia’s preserve, other teams too matched.

The over all picture is here, in numbers.

Fate of 7 out of 18 Azlan Shah 2013 matches were decided in the last 10 minutes of play.

In 4 matches the winning goal or the decisive goal -- that nullified the lead taking the match to interesting draw -- was struck between 56th and 59th minute.

That is, 11 out of 18 matches were played down to wire.

The remaining 7 matches were one-sided or the other side did not score at all, or the winning margin was 2 or more.

Further if one looks at which team made it happen the credit goes to Australia and Malaysia.

undefined For example, Australia thrashed Pakistan 6-0, the losing team did not score, and the winning could protect its lead all through. It’s a good match, wishes for the winner, but this match comes under 7 matches indicated above, and does not offer scope for Killer Instinct.

Killer instinct is constant attitude of not giving up, just not mentally but also match application of press on the turf, believing in themselves till the last second. It comes out of hard training, and the ability of the teams to change gear and keep the fitness as best as possible till the last moment.

As Trent Mitton’s goal in the final, Faizal Saari’s 70th minute equalizer in the pool clash against Australia (1- 1), Deavin Trimothy’s equalizer in the 70th min (3-3) against Korea (3-3), the hosts’ decisive goal against India (2-2) are not just events, or numbers but combined result of training and its application on demand. Better not to bury these facts into umpiring hassles, which are any case part of hockey game.

Nowadays, all the 18 players are allowed to play much against 16 till recently. It offers more scope for fitness and rotation of legs in the last spell.

Well prepared teams, both in mental and physical terms, and through constant, specific strategic training, have come out with clear showcasing of killer instincts in crucial contests. They walked away with laurels.

Malaysia and Australia proved it so in Ipoh recently. Every team needs to adopt to ‘never relax’, and ‘Game is meant for 70.00 mins Strategy, and train accordingly.

Hockey fans will be beneficiaries.

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