A timely switch in tactics by India coach Sardar Singh at half-time helped the Indian men’s team make a superb comeback against Malaysia in a thrilling 3-3 draw in a Super 4s match in the Asia Cup hockey competition here on Sunday.
India were totally subdued in the first half of the match as Malaysia scored once in each quarter to take a 2-0 lead. India came back strongly in the second half and took 3-2 lead before the Malaysians scored a goal five minutes before the end of the match to draw the match.
The draw meant that India were tied with Japan with four points from a win and a draw. However, they were placed second in the table on an inferior goal difference but remained on course to play in the gold medal match.
Asked what changed between the two halves of the match, Indian player Pawan Rajbhar said coach Sardar Singh switched the tactics at half-time.
“In the first half, we were very defensive. At the half-time, the coach sir told us to play more aggressively. He told us not to get bogged down by the score and to play our natural game. We did just that and it helped us to make a comeback in the match,” Rajbhar told the official broadcaster after the match.
Rajbhar, gave an example of self-less play when he set up senior forward SV Sunil for the second goal with a superb pass after doing the spadework, said every player was pumped up after the first half and tried to do their best in the second.