Nikkin Thimmaiah scored a brace as the Indian men’s hockey team got the better of Malaysia 4-2 to register its first win in the round robin encounter of the 4 Nations Invitational tournament here today.
In a closely-fought contest, India scored two goals in the final quarter of the match to earn their first points at the tournament.
India got off to a dominating start in the opening periods of the game, pressing high and consistently effecting turnovers to keep Malaysia in their own half.
However, despite the overwhelming possession, there weren’t many clear chances created as Malaysia’s deep defence held firm and the two teams went into the first break locked in a stalemate.
In the second quarter also the Indians dominated in the midfield but were unable to find a breakthrough in the final third. This lasted till the 24th minute of the match before Sardar Singh capitalised on a Malaysian mistake to launch an attack. His pass found Satbir Singh, who laid it off to Thimmaiah at the edge of the circle.
Nikkin dummied the defender and cut into the circle, before unleashing a shot into the bottom corner to give India a 1-0 lead, which they held on to as the match went into halftime.
Nine minutes into the third quarter, Malaysia hit back with an equaliser with Faizal Saari converting a penalty corner.
The parity didn’t last long though, as India won their first PC almost from the restart. From the PC, Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake and once again gave India the lead. The teams went into the final break with India leading 2-1.
Malaysia had a flurry of PCs in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Shahril Saabah converted the second to draw level again, setting the stage for an exciting finish.
The equaliser from Malaysia served as a blessing in disguise for India as they stepped up their game and started being more assertive with their possession, making more penetrations into the Malaysian circle.
The dominance paid off in the 55th minute with Nikkin scoring his second goal of the game.
India stepped up a gear and within a minute as Akashdeep Singh scored the fourth goal for India.
India will next play New Zealand on Saturday.