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Asian CT Kuantan 2016
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ACT M 2016: India comes out clean in another thril (10/26/2016)
--s2h team
The setting was perfect. Full crowd, maximum so far in Kuantan, did everything possible. As if they were listening to them the Malaysians were putting up a good fight and in the fitness of things were cruising along for a famous draw against higher ranked rival in India.

The last minute moments could not have been less Hitchonian than it was so in Kuantan on wednesday evening.

Faster and fitter India did not work for draw, instead pressed hard for a win, and got last of its four penalty corners. The clock showed 2.16 minutes remaining for the match close. Successful earlier, Malaysia used its referral weapon challenging the penalty corner award by Australian Grime Murray who had a bad day as earlier two of his decision did not survive referral harangue. Thankfully for India, now it did not work out.

undefined Lanky Rupinder Pal turned out the saviour for India. Once again, second time in the match over all, beat entrenched goalie Kumar Subramaniam. Malaysian captain later said that the communication between the first rusher and others let the goal in. Whatever, India went up again (2-1).

It was Faridkot Falcon's TENTH goal, all through PCs

There were tense moments subsequently. In a hurry to clear a building up tension a few yards away from their own D, Sardar Singh played beyond whistle and the Pakistan umpire Hider Rasool would not like it.

He awarded a penalty corner for Malaysia, the team truly disputed it in vain. Hopes renewed for the hosts, the goody crowd, still a chance beckons for the hosts, who really were successful in containing the marauding Indian forwards often, to seek a well deserved draw.

Razie Rahim, who earlier gave Malaysian the wonderful ground shot that neutralized Indian lead, took the drag. India's second goalie Akash Chikte rose to the occasion, warded off the guile flick. This was his fourth save in penalty corners.

Indian coach Roelant Oltmans worked overtime for today's player positioning and sparingly using the trumps.

He played Sardar Singh at midfield for most part of the game unlike so far where he was employed upfront. Nikkin Thimmaiah was sparing used as also Devinder Walmiki. Akashdeep Singh and Talwinder got their fair amount of time on the field. As Ramandeep Singh adn Nikkin getting less time, the intensity upfront, which was all pervasive in the first quarter, was not there.

Malaysians made use of India's ideas, and made numerous inroads. Birendra Lakra did not do well, Jasjeet was brought in for most times as defender rather than as a forward, which was the case so far.

However, there was not any change with regard to Rupinder Pal. He was almost 70-minute player now, it seems. Be it building moves or taking PCs, Rupinder Pal left his indelible mark in the game. He was undoubtedly the hero.

undefined In the first quarter, Rupinder Pal saw his drag blocked by Kumar, but like a hawk he bounced on to the rebound to make cage connection off the second penalty corner.

Three minutes into second quarter Malaysia replied in style (1-1). Though failed with the first PC in the spell, experienced Razie Rahim lived up to the expectation of huge crowd with immaculate corner flick (1-1).

That time Nikkin was serving yellow card suspension for foul he committed moments before the first quarter end.

Indians showed enormous energy and intensity to outplay Malaysia in the opening spells but some sharp attacks were blunted by AHF Goalkeeper award winner Kumar Subramaniam.

At 36, Kumar showed what experience is when fast and furious Nikkin just tapped the ball in a lightening moment in well coordinated right flank attack. He came out equally lightening for clearance much to the relief of the vast crowd, maximum so far in the week long tournament.

In the last quarter in the space of two minutes Malaysia missed two golden chances to go up. First Haril Saabh's strong forehand from top of D, hits his own player Samsul Haziq covering the goalie. He needed doctor to attend on the pitch. A minute later, Joel van Huien, son of coach Stephen, tore the Indian defence on the right flank, shot from acute angle, only to see the ball rolls agonizingly across the goalmouth without eliciting any touch.

After India took lead in the 57th minute, coach Stephen van Huien replaced goalie with an additional player. It did not make much difference, as one of their players would get green card!

The game was physical, and was replete with unpleasant incidents. Marker Firhan Ashari cunningly hit Akashdeep Singh on stomach inside D when no play was on, leading to match stopped for a while but got away with it as umpire caught un-sighted perhaps.

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