April 8: Like a rainbow after the rain, Malaysian fans who stayed on in the Azlan Shah Stadium despite the heavy downpour and lightning for the delayed match against India, witnessed the end of our team’s losing streak with a deserving 3-2 win over India.
On Wednesday, April 8 the delayed tournament finally began at 9.10pm, much to the relief of the crowd of the almost-full stadium.
After two consecutive defeats against New Zealand and Australia, the home team restored the faith of Malaysians as they won their first match, making it a precious comeback victory.
The victory was made sweeter due to the fact that India beat Malaysia in World Cup 2014 where the former won 3-2.
Before the action-packed match of many brilliant stick work, a plaque presentation to Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam for donning his 250th cap set the team off to a good start. The action of world-class hockey could be seen in the second quarter when Faizal Saari scored the first goal for Malaysia through the first penalty corner in the 17th minute. However, India equalised in the 20th minute through Rupinder Pal Singh who scored through a penalty corner.
At halftime, the scores were: India 1 – Malaysia 1.
In the 35th minute of the third quarter, the field goal by Muhammad Haziq Shamsul got the fans’ hopes up with a 2-1 lead. In the fourth quarter, fans were on their seats edge when Rupinder Pal Singh drew level by scoring again in the 51st minute through another penalty corner.
With less than two minutes remaining, Shahrun Abdullah turned the tables with a field goal amid the cheers from the fans. He was later named the Man of the Match.
During the press conference, national coach Tai Beng Hai was brimming with joy while saying, “I think today we did well and won the game. When we played the first and second games, there was some improvement, it’s just that we didn’t get the results. But today I think we played well.” On the other hand, India chief coach Paul van Ass remained positive by saying, “We converted 2 out of 6 so that is still a very good conversion rate of 30%.” “We lacked time in the end so we couldn’t recover,” he added.
Earlier in the day was also the match between New Zealand and Canada which resulted in a 5-0 win for the former. Malaysia will take on Korea who was beaten by defending champions Australia 2-5 on the same day.