Stung by the shocking draw against debutants Egypt in the opening match of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament, India will have to pull up their socks and come out all guns blazing against in-form Malaysia in their second round robin encounter in Ipoh on Wednesday.
India, eight times Olympic champions, put up a shoddy performance against newcomers Egypt, conceding a last-gasp goal to settle for a 2-2 on Sunday.
On the contrary, the hosts’ confidence is sky high after registering back-to-back victories in the five-nation tournament. Malaysia scampered past Pakistan 3-2 on Sunday before outplaying Egypt 4-1 on Monday and a win on Wednesday will seal their place in the final, leaving India, New Zealand and Egypt to slug it out for the other spot.
Pakistan, the other team in the event, has already been ruled out of the summit clash after they slumped to their second successive defeat on Monday.
And India could end up joining Pakistan on the sidelines if they don’t win Wednesday’s all-important tie as even a draw won’t help their cause because New Zealand will take on lowly Egypt in the other match.
A win for the Kiwis and defeat or draw for India, will more or less take the last year’s runner-up out of the summit clash equation and coach Harendra Singh admitted it was a desperate situation.
“We will continue to play attacking hockey and go for a win. A win tomorrow can only keep us in the fray for the final. We can’t think about any other option,” he said on the eve of the all-important match.