Pic shows India's Yuvraj Walmiki dribbling past England's Tim Whiteman during their Group A match on Monday. The Indians will take on Malaysia on Saturday. - EPA
THE HAGUE: Statistics usually do favour Malaysia when it comes to comparisons with the top hockey playing countries.
So, it’s no surprise that India hold a big advantage over Malaysia in their head-to-head clashes.
Both teams have met 105 times, with India recording 73 wins, 18 draws and 14 losses.
Saturday will see the two teams clashing for only the fourth time in World Cup history.
They first met in the 1975 semi-final in Kuala Lumpur, which India won 3-2. Then, they met in the group phase of the 1982 World Cup in Bombay. Again, the Indians won – this time 6-2.
The third time was the charm for Malaysia as they triumphed 3-2 – also at the group stage – at the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
Both teams are now in the unenviable position of needing to win today’s game so as not to finish last in the group.
Malaysia are winless after three matches while India have one point after their 1-1 draw with Spain on Thursday.
India coach Terry Walsh said that the game against Malaysia would be different and “we’ll have to plan differently”.
“That’s the beauty of the World Cup. Every match is different ... teams don’t play the same way. You plan one match at a time and see how it goes,” said Walsh, who used to coach Malaysia from 1990 to 1993 and took over India’s team in January.
“We want to win every match but we’ve been unlucky in some of them. So, getting a point off Spain was great ... we want to improve on that.”
India skipper Sardar Singh said that matches between the two teams had always been close and “there is no reason to think that it will be any easier tomorrow (today)”.
“We have played Malaysia before and we know what they are capable of. But we are desperate for a win ... so, we will not take it lightly nor take them for granted,” he said.
The last time the two teams met was in November 2013 at the Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan. India won 4-3.
Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj said that it’s never easy playing against India, more so when they are in desperate need of points.
“India have always been a good team and highly skillful. They have managed to gain one point and will be looking at us to get their first win,” he said.
“We too have targeted full points from this match ... so, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out.”