Hockey was at its best in the Pool C match of the FIH Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup 2023 between Malaysia and New Zealand at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
New Zealand came from two goals behind to settle the sore 2-2 in the final quarter. However, Malaysia struck in the 57th minute to win the keenly-contested match eventually.
The Kiwis started well, but they were later subdued against some aggressive display of hockey by the opponents till the third quarter. They displayed some intent during the last part of the game, but it was too late to have any impact in the match.
The first quarter was a keenly contested affair with both the teams giving each other a good run for their money. In the process, New Zealand and Malaysia earned two penalty corners in the second and the seventh minutes respectively. However, they failed to grab the scoring opportunities against the agile and alert defenders.
Malaysia turned out to be more opportunistic as Saari Faizal opened the account for them in the eighth minute. The first quarter ended with the scoreline ending 1-0 in favour of Malaysia.
They continued with the momentum and earned their second penalty corner in the 20th minute, but couldn't capitalise. They created another penalty corner chance three minutes later, but failed to convert thanks to the acrobatic effort by Kiwis custodian Dominic Dixon.
Malaysia continued to have an upper hand over the Black Sticks and they earned their fourth penalty corner in the 36th minute only to be denied the scoring opportunity by rock solid defenders of the opposition. They stamped their authority to gain their fifth and sixth penalty corners on the trot in the 42nd minute. The last one was duly converted by Rahim Razie to give them a 2-0 lead till the end of the third quarter.
The fourth and the final quarter witnessed a desperate effort by the Kiwis to come back into the match as the opposition became a bit complacent with the double lead. In the process, Phillips Hayden reduced the margin in the 51st minute. They earned another penalty corner in the next minute and Lane Sam found the equaliser by converting it into a goal.
Malaysia came back strongly with Saari Faizal scoring a tricky goal in the 56th minute to make the scoreline 3-2 in their favour. Kiwis fought back to earn a penalty corner in the 57th minute of the match, but it was thwarted by the first rusher of the opposition.