India stunned by Ireland in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

Ipoh (Malaysia): Continuing their underwhelming performances at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here, Asian hockey champions India on Friday went down 2-3 to Ireland and will now meet the European minnows in the fifth/sixth classification match on Saturday.

Ramandeep Singh (10th minute) and Amit Rohidas (26th) scored for India, who needed a win to seal their place in the bronze-medal play-off, while Shane O’Donoghue (24th), Sean Murray (36th) and Lee Cole (42th) scored for Ireland.

Out of five matches, Sjoerd Marijne-coached India, who are here with a heavily rotated squad, won once and drew one, grabbing four points to be fifth, while Ireland finished sixth and last with three points.

The final will be held between world champions Australia and England, with the latter battering hosts Malaysia 7-2 to reach the title clash. World champions Australia defeated Olympic champions 3-1 to maintain their all-win record so far. Malaysia will meet Argentina in the bronze medal match.

Against Ireland, India, who had thrashed Malaysia 5-1 on Thursday to rekindle their hopes of playing a match, bearing a medal, vied for another win on the trot and got on to a start that reflected this intent.

They got the lead with Ramandeep coming up with a great finish to direct the drag-flick into the net with a tap in after he had injected the ball perfectly for the drag-flicker Varun Kumar.

With 1-0 lead, India had to contain Ireland and ensure they stayed ahead. India denied Ireland their first penalty corner of a match with a decision for video referral that was ruled in India’s favour.

But conceded an equaliser soon after through Shane O’Donoghue. The 24th-minute field goal was good team work between Kirk Shimmins, Sean Murray and O’Donoghue.

Two minutes later, India regained the lead, through Amit Rohidas, who found the top net with a fiercely-struck drag-flick.

A foot foul by defender Dipsan Tirkey saw India concede a penalty corner only 15 seconds prior to the half-time hooter but Suraj Karkera was on top of his job to keep India’s lead.

India seemed to drop their game slightly in the third quarter with Ireland scoring two back-to-back goals in the 36th and 42nd minute through Sean Murray and Lee Cole respectively.

The Irish dominated with the ball possession while their goalkeeper Jamie Carr came up with some brilliant saves to keep India under pressure.

Though India had more circle entries, they could not make much of it thanks to Carr’s attentiveness at the goalpost.

Falling behind by two goals to win, Indian forwards were desperate to make potential forays into the striking circle. While the team’s defence contained the Irish from taking further lead, an infringement by Ireland helped India win a penalty corner. But Rohidas couldn’t make it count.

With time ticking away, India pulled out their goalkeeper to add an extra man to their attack. Simranjeet Singh was responsible to win another penalty corner for India in the 56th minute. But Varun’s effort was deflected by Irish rushers.

Counting down to the final hooter, errors proved dear for the Indian team while Ireland successfully held on to their 3-2 lead to win.