Malaysia went down 5-2 against India but not without a gallant fight in front of an estimated 700 fans in 10th Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru tonight.

The Indians arrived here with the reputation of always displaying scintillating performance but the Malaysians were equally dashing throughout the match. Never mind the final score.

Marshalled by seven players from the 2021 Junior World Cup and four from the 2019 edition of the SOJC, India dominated the match with early breakthroughs for a 4-1 half-time lead.

Amandeep Singh and Hundal Araijet Singh started the early damage in the sixth and 10th minutes via a field goal and penalty corner conversion to give the two-time SOJC champions a 2-0 lead.

The Malaysians fought back bravely and surprised the Indians with a field goal through Shahmie Irfan Suhaimi in the 13th minute, placing the past goalkeeper Ankit Malik into the left post.

Down 1-0, the host were undaunted and mounted several raids into India’s defensive fort but their efforts were reduced to zero. India’s lethal strikers Dhami Boby Singh and Chirmako Sudeeden then caused further misery by scoring two superb goals in the 20th and 26th minutes.

The second half turned into a yo-yo affair as the Indians and Malaysians were embroiled in a pressure-cooker atmosphere duel with constant counter attacks. Malaysian coach Amin Rahim replaced goalkeeper Amir Muhaimin with Mohamad Rafaizul in the second half.

In a sudden counter attack that caught the Indian defense off guard in the 52nd minute, Malaysia earned its third penalty corner of the match and Muhamad Mamat scored to reduce the deficit 4-2.

India closed the proceedings of the night with a fifth goal through Shardanand Tiwari off a penalty corner four minutes to end of play.

Though the Indians went home celebrating, the night belonged the lion-hearted Malaysians who stood tall against a formidable opponent, in defeat.