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Dominant India clinch third Hockey Asia Cup

  • Published at 03:01 pm October 22nd, 2017
Dominant India clinch third Hockey Asia Cup
India lifted their third Hockey Asia Cup title, and first in 10 years, when they defeated a spirited Malaysia 2-1 in a hard-fought final of the 2017 edition at Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka Sunday evening. After winning consecutive trophies in 2003 and 2007, India went close to another title in the last edition in 2013 but fell short against South Korea in the final. They got their Asian dominance back, thanks to goals from Ramandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay. It was the eighth time India reached the final of the Asia Cup, most by any team, while for Malaysia, this was their first ever final. Since the introduction of the tournament in 1982, India couldn't reach the final only twice in 1999 and 2009. The two sides had also faced each other in the Super Four round where India won by a big margin with six different players getting their names on the scoresheet. None of the six players managed to get into the scoresheet in Sunday's final. Ramandeep put India ahead with only three minutes into the clock connecting home in his second attempt after a flick from Sunil Sowmarpet from the right side found him in front of the far post. In-form forward Lalit doubled the lead a minute before the opening half connecting home calmly following a reverse hit by Sumit from the left side. Both Lalit and Ramandeep finished their campaign on four goals each. Shahril Saabah pulled one back for Malaysia five minutes into the final quarter hitting the backboard on a rebound after Amirol Arshad's initial effort was blocked by the goalkeeper. India earned only two penalty corners against Malaysia's three but the former champion controlled ball possession as well as created more chances but Malaysia keeper Kumar Subramiam made some brilliant saves, including a one one-on-one shot from Akashdeep in the 26th minute. In the day's other match at the same venue in the afternoon, Pakistan retained third spot after handing reigning champion South Korea a convincing 6-3 defeat in the 3rd-4th place deciding game. Azaz Ahmad, who scored only one goal in Pakistan's last six matches in the tournament, netted a brilliant hat-trick, scoring in the 10th, 30th and 36th minute. The last one was a lovely solo effort. Drag-and-flick specialist, Abu Mahmood netted his fifth goal in the tournament, with all of them coming from penalty corners, two minutes into the third quarter while Rashim Mehmood and Yaqoob Muhammad added one apiece in the 26th and 56th minute respectively. This is the first time South Korea participated in the Asia Cup and failed to finish among the top three teams. The four-time champion didn't take part in the inaugural edition in 1982. On the other hand, this was the third time three-time champion Pakistan emerged third in the Asia Cup after 1994 and 2013. Meanwhile, Bangladesh's Arshad Hossain was adjudged the most promising player of the tournament. Malaysian attacker Faizal Saari bagged the best player of the tournament award. Indian custodian Akash Chikte became the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Faizal and Harmanpret jointly became top-scorers of the tournament with seven goals each. RESULTS India 2 (Ramandeep 3, Lalit 29) 1 Malaysia (Saabah 50) Pakistan 6 (Azaz 10, 30, 36, Rashim 26, Abu 47, Yaqoob 56) 3 South Korea (Cho 20, Lee 43, Seo 55)   AWARDS • Arshad Hossain (Bangladesh) – Most promising player • Faizal Saari (Malaysia) – Best player • Akash Chikte (India) – Best goalkeeper • Faizal (Pakistan) and Harmanpreet Singh (India) – Top-scorers
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