Azlan Shah Cup: India thrash Ireland to finish 5th

File Photo : Hockey India
IANS|10-Mar-2018 15:00

Ipoh (Malaysia), March 10 : India finished a disappointing fifth at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament after handing out a 4-1 drubbing to Ireland here on Saturday.

Varun Kumar scored twice from penalty corners while Shilanand Lakra and Gurjant Singh got the other goals for India in the fifth/sixth classification match.

Julian Dale exploited some poor marking by the Indian defenders to get a consolation goal for the European minnows in the final quarter.

India thus got consolation revenge for the 2-3 loss to Ireland in their last league stage match on Friday which had eliminated their already slim chances of qualifying for the medal rounds.

Saturday's match capped a rather insipid campaign for India during which the only positive results were a 5-1 rout of hosts Malaysia and a 1-1 draw with European powerhouse England.

India put up an improved show on the final day that ensured that Ireland did not walk away as surprise winners for the second consecutive day.

India began with strong attack early on that helped them win back-to-back penalty corners in the fifth minute. It was an infringement on Ireland's part when Simranjeet Singh was attempting a shot on goal that resulted in the penalty corner. Though the first attempt was saved, a tussle for the ball in the circle resulted in another penalty corner. This time Varun found success, ensuring India got off to a good start with 1-0 lead.

The second quarter saw India up their energy and constantly attacked the Irish circle. They dominated with ball possession and attempted four shots on goal. 

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One such attempt saw Nilam Sanjeep Xess's fierce pass from right side of the circle to find forward Shilanand Lakra poised in front of the goal. The young lad from Sundergarh, Odisha ensured he didn't miss out on the opportunity as he beat Ireland's goalkeeper Jamie Carr, doubling India's lead to 2-0.

India began the third quarter with a penalty in the 32nd minute. It was midfielder Sumit who was in the middle of all the action, trying to make a baseline entry into the circle when the Irish defender was caught making an infringement. Varun seemed to have found his mojo in this match as he pumped a brilliantly struck dragflick past Carr to take India's lead to a comfortable 3-0.

India's next goal came off Gurjant in the 37th minute. It was brilliant play by Talwinder Singh who received a good pass from Simranjeet and later connected it to Gurjant who made no mistake in putting it into the post.

Though India conceded a goal in the 48th minute, the team's defence remained resolute through the match restricting the number of circle entries Ireland made to 18 and denied them potential shots on goal. 

Though India earned a penalty corner in the 50th minute and another one towards the dying minutes of the match, they couldn't convert but ensured they kept the lead to win.