India won the Asian Champions Trophy 2023 by the odd goal in seven after a sensational final against Malaysia. The final score read 4-3 with Jugraj Singh (9', PC), Harmanpreet Singh (45' PS), Gurjant Singh (45') and Akashdeep Singh (45') scoring for India and Azrai Abu Kamal (14'), Razie Rahim (18', PC) and Muhammad Aminudin (28', PC) doing the honours for Malaysia.
The game started with attacks at both ends, before Malaysia slowly took over. It was all Malaysia when against the run of play India won a penalty corner thanks to a mazy run into the circle from Selvan Karthi. Jugraj stepped up and hammered his dragflick into the top left corner. The lead lasted just five minutes, though, as Malaysia came roaring back. Abu Kamal, who'd been the player of the match till then, zipped into the circle, exchanged a one-two before gently lifting the ball over a tentative Kishan Pathak in the Indian goal.
The second quarter saw Malaysia step up the intensity a notch, and it was simply too much for India to handle. The hosts barely strung together a move of any intent as Malaysia's pacy forwards swarmed in and out of the Indian circle. They scored in the second minute of the quarter, after Rahim flicked brilliantly into the bottom corner. The home crowd picked up the volume of their support, but it did little difference. Malaysia continued to dominate the play and the pressure told once again, this time with two minutes to go in the half. Ashran Hamsani won a PC with some deft stickwork in the circle and Aminuddin made no mistake with the dragflick, leathering it into the top corner.
India then came flying out of the traps in the second half -- and it was Malaysia's turn to drop deeper and deeper as the pressure mounted. They held on for 14 minutes, though, before the last minute undid it all. First, Razie Rahim was forced to tackle Sukhjeet Singh from behind when the forward was through one-on-one on goal, and Harmanpreet converted the penalty stroke with a minimum of fuss. That goal was what India had been waiting for and it was followed up with the equaliser, within seconds, as Sukhjeet slapped a ball into the circle and Gurjant and Karthi exchanged a quick one-two before the former smashed it into an empty net.
The fourth quarter was much more even, and much more open, but India held their nerve toward the end to convert under high pressure. It started with Shamsher tackling, and getting the ball of Azuan in midfield. He was tripped from behind in turn but kept his balance and played it into the circle -- where Akashdeep trapped it, turned and absolutely larrumped one into the top corner. It was an immense finish, one worthy of winning a tournament and that's exactly how it turned out.
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