India recovered from a chastening defeat against Ireland in the final group stage match on Friday, to finish the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament fifth on the table thanks to a 4-1 win in the playoff on Saturday in Ipoh, Malaysia.
Goals from Varun Kumar (2), Gurjant Singh and Shailanand Lakra saw India romp home to a big win against a visibly tired Irish team under hot and humid conditions that called for extended breaks between quarters.
India’s dominance in the match can be gauged from the fact that Ireland had zero circle entries in the first half and finished the match with just one shot on goal - a tap in by Julian Dale in final quarter with just 12 minutes left to play. The goal ensured Ireland have scored in every match of the tournament and with two matches to play, no single team has kept a clean sheet so far.
For India, Varun finally converted the penalty corners that came his way, scoring two goals and missing a couple of chances to finish a hat-trick. Lakra, playing his first senior tournament, scored his third goal of the tournament with a neat chipped finish while Gurjant applied the finishing touch to flowing counterattack in the 37th minute to put India firmly ahead in the match.
In the end, with both teams running out of steam, the match ended 4-1 in India’s favour as they avoided a last-placed finish in the first major tournament of 2018.