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India to face Malaysia in Sultan Azlan Shah final

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India ON Saturday overcame arch rivals Pakistan 2-1 to meet Malaysia in their sixth final in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The Malaysians booked their third berth in Sunday's final by drawing 1-1 with New Zealand. In 1985 they lost the final to India and in 2007 to Australia.

The Indians were champions in 1985, 1991 and 1995 while their other final appearances were in 2006 and last year.

India's skipper Sandeep Singh scored two goals against Pakistan, to take his tournament tally to seven, in a slow and drab game that did not live up to the rivalry which usually accompanies the two teams.

Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan was convinced that the Indians deliberately slowed down the pace since they needed only a draw to make the final.

"I am not criticising the Indian play but the fire was somehow missing in this game. We had the chances but could not finish off the moves," he said.

"I also question the two penalty corners that were awarded to India which resulted in the goals. We gave it a good try and that is the main thing," he added.

The start of the match was compounded by some harsh tackles with both sides being aggressive.

The Indians drew first blood when they earned a penalty corner in the 28th minute. Sandeep Singh's flick was deemed to have hit a Pakistan player and a penalty stroke was awarded. Sandeep made no mistake with the conversion.

In the second half the match was evenly contested. Pakistan depended on counter-attacks and they found the equaliser with Mohamed Saqlain scoring off a field attempt in the 50th minute.

It was the Indians who gained ground with two penalty corners in the later stages of the second half. They scored their second goal with Sandeep's drag flick in the 60th minute off their second attempt.

Indian coach Harender Singh was happy with the outcome but less enthusiastic about the performance.

"Now the players need to raise their game and win the final. There is improvement but only a little," he said.

In the later match Malaysia scored their goal in the 48th minute through a deflection in the semi-circle. The Kiwis found their goal a minute later with Nicholas Wilson on target for a field attempt.

The Malaysians had three penalty corners in the match while the Kiwis had four.

India pip Pakistan 2-1 to enter Azlan Shah final

Ipoh (Malaysia), Apr 11 (PTI) Skipper Sandeep Singh scored two goals as India pipped arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 in a do-or-die round robin match to enter the final of the five-nation Azlan Shah hockey tournament here today.
Sandeep, leading goal scorer for his side in the tournament, continued his rich form and struck twice in the 28th and 60th minutes to seal the victory for the Indians in the crucial tie at the Azlan Shah Stadium.

For Pakistan, Mohamed Saqlain reduced the margin in the 50th minute.

With this win, India sealed their place in tomorrow's final with eight points in their kitty and will take on hosts Malaysia in the summit clash.

Malaysia drew 1-1 with New Zealand in the last round robin match.

Sandeep led from the front in the crucial encounter against the traditional rivals, sounding the board on either side of the break and then ensuring that India does not succumb to their perennial habit of conceding late goals.

After 28 minutes of mid-field scramble by both the sides, India finally took the lead through Sandeep from a penalty stroke to go into the breather with a 1-0 lead. PTI

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