Jakarta: India kept their title hopes alive after playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the Hero Asia Cup 2022 Super 4s match against Malaysia at the GBK Sports Complex Hockey Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday. Despite trailing early on, India fought valiantly in the match with Vishnukant Singh (32') reducing the deficit in the third quarter. SV Sunil (53') and Nilam Sanjeep Xess (55') scored a goal each in the final quarter to bring India back in the contest. Razie Rahim (12', 21', 56') starred for Malaysia, scoring a hat-trick in the match.
The match started with India pressing deep inside Malaysia's circle with Karthi Selvam and Pawan Rajbhar combining to put pressure on the opposition's defence. India goalkeeper Suraj Karkera made two back-to-back saves after he denied Muhammad Hassan a goalscoring opportunity, and then saving the Penalty Corner. Malaysia won another PC with three minutes to go in the first quarter, and Razie Rahim converted the opportunity to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Trailing by a goal, India showcased an urgency in attack to quickly get back on level terms at the start of the second quarter. SV Sunil and Maninder Singh combined to create a chance from the right flanks, but the Malaysian defence averted the danger. Razie Rahim doubled Malaysia's lead from another Penalty Corner in the 21st minute. Minutes later, Faizal Saari struck twice on target, but was denied by the Indian defence. India kept Malaysia at bay for the remainder of the second quarter and the match went to halftime with Malaysia leading by two goals.
India earned an early penalty corner in the second half and Vishnukant Singh made the most of the opportunity, scoring a goal from a rebound. Minutes later, Karthi Selvam sent an excellent cross inside the circle, but it just went wide off the man inside the circle. India received another Penalty Corner with six minutes to go in the third quarter, but were unable to get the equaliser. Goalkeeper Pankaj Rajak made a stunning save to deny Malaysia the opportunity to extend their lead as the third quarter came to a close.
Early on in the final quarter, Pawan Rajbhar showcased individual brilliance to break through Malaysia's midfield and he passed the ball to SV Sunil inside the circle. The veteran converted the goal from an acute angle as India levelled the score to 2-2. Minutes later, Nilam Sanjeep Xess scored from a Penalty Corner as India took a 3-2 lead in the match. But India conceded another PC a minute later, and Razie Rahim made the most of the opportunity to level the scoreline once again. India made threatening runs inside the circle, but Japan held their nerves till the final whistle and the match ended in a draw.
India are currently placed in the second position in the Super 4s Pool table of Hero Asia Cup 2022 with 4 points, after having beaten Japan 2-1 in their first Super 4s game on Saturday. India will play their next game of the Super 4s against Korea on Tuesday.