It was a match that India should have wrapped up by half time but they made heavy weather of it. In the end, the consolation was that for the first time in four matches, India had a win to show for its effort in this World Cup. They survived some tense moments and finally earned full points, but the consensus, including that of the captain Sardar Singh and coach Terry Walsh, was that India ought to have won by a better margin with greater precision with their shooting.
The scorers were Jasjit Singh (14th), Akashdeep Singh (49th and 51st) for India, while Razie Abdul Rahim (46th) and Marhan Jalil (61st) scored for Malaysia and then gave India the jitters in the closing stages at the Greenfields stadium.
In an earlier match, Belgium thrashed Spain 5-2 and just after India's game, Australia handed England a lesson in modern hockey with five goals in 38 minutes and then cooled off to enjoy the match. Australia now have a maximum of 12 points while Belgium have nine with three wins and one loss. England have seven with two wins and a draw, while India have four from four matches and Spain have two from two draws. Malaysia with four losses have yet to score any points.
"We have three points, so if you have three points from a match, you have the right result," said a realistic Terry Walsh. "But the truth is we should have won with a better margin."
Piling on pressure from the word go, India dominated the first 20-odd minutes. After more than a few efforts, they finally did in the 14th minute but ironically it followed a botched up penalty corner effort by VR Raghunath. Lalit Upadhyay right behind him grabbed the ball and sent it to an unmarked Jasjit Singh, who trapped and then smashed home a rasping shot for 1-0. One would have expected the Indians to pick up the tempo from there but a series of missed chances, wide swings and delayed shots meant they went into half time with just a 1-0 lead.
Malaysia's equaliser came in a very fortuitous way for them. The penalty corner shot was saved by SK Uthappa, but the ball hit the back of the foot of the goalkeeper Sreejesh and went in in the 46th minute.
Stung by the reverse, India once again went on the offensive.
They struck twice in two minutes. First in the 49th minute, following a penalty corner for Malaysia, India's Rupinder Pal virtually started the move from Indian circle. He took the ball down the right flank, put Kothajit into possession and he in turn sent it to left to Manpreet. Manpreet sent back the ball to the approaching Rupinder and his shot from outside the circle was deflected in by Akashdeep to make it 2-1.
Two minutes later, Sardar won a ball deep in his own half and virtually ran the length to the top of the Malaysian circle magically weaving his way past the host of Malaysians. He sent the ball into a gap and a well-placed Akashdeep, took on the stick and then banged home the second shot to the top of the net.
Malaysia got their second goal in the 61st after Marhan Jalil, who found the target with a rebound. For the next nine minutes, even though they did attack, the Indians had their fans sweating even more on a warm afternoon as Malaysia made a couple of raids. But the score held eventually and India won.