India [ Images ] entered the semi-finals of the seventh women's Asia Cup hockey tournament after holding Malaysia to a 1-1 draw in their last Group A match at the Queen Sirikit Sports Centre in Bangkok on Wednesday.
Defender Binita Toppo scored the equaliser in the 27th minute after Juliani Mohamad Din surprised India as early as the fourth minute of the match.
With two wins and as many draws, India finished their group proceedings in second place and will take on formidable South Korea, the Group B toppers, in the semi-finals.
China topped Group A and will face Japan [ Images ] in the other last four match.
Earlier, undefeated Korea thrashed hapless Chinese Taipei 15-0 to register their fourth successive win and top Group B, ahead of Japan.
Even though they needed just a draw to progress to the semi-finals, India must be disappointed to have dropped two points to the Malaysians.
The draw denied India a relatively easy semi-final outing against off-colour Japan as they needed an outright win to top Group A.
Hitherto undefeated, India made a mess of their last group match despite territorial domination. The Indians had no clue as to how to break the crowded defence of the vigilant Malaysians.
To add to their misery, Malaysian goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya proved a hard nut to crack.
That India dominated the game can be gauged from the fact that they earned four penalty-corners in each half, while their opponents managed just one and utilised it to perfection to put India on the backfoot.
Malaysian striker Din stole the show early into the match with an immaculate penalty-corner conversion in the fourth minute much against the run of play.
Stung by the early goal. India went all out and their efforts bore fruit in the 27th minute when Binita found the net with a carpet drive after Deepika Thakur did the spadework from India's fourth penalty-corner to go into the breather tied 1-1.
The Indians could have won the match had strikers Jasjeet Kaur and substitute Mukta Barla not missed a couple of sitters in the second half.
Barla had the goal open in the 64th minute, but she shot the wide from arm's distance.
Although his wards made it to the semi-finals, India's coach M K Kaushik [ Images ] was a disappointed man with the result and blamed his forwards for not winning the match.
"We gave the advantage to our rivals. We certainly lost the advantage, my forwards' positioning was wrong. We knew the Malaysians would defend heavily, and go for occasional run-downs. They did this exactly and got the results. Their shifting was perfect. We could have gone for rebounds, which we did not," Kaushik said after the match.
"They have to prepare themselves for the big matches and it is an attitude issue," he said.
Captain Surinder Kaur too admitted that the team could have won.
"We should have won, but we did not."