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Malaysia defied world rankings to defeat New Zealand 2-1 in the Sultan Azlan Cup this evening to maintain a perfect start to the tournament.

The Kiwis are ranked sixth in the FIH current rankings with Malaysia a lowly 13th, but Malaysia upstaged their rivals with a display that had guts, courage and tactical discipline.

Malaysia edged Korea 3-2 in their opening match on Saturday and the win today gives them six points and second spot in the standings as the tournament takes a day's break on Monday.

It was a nervous start form Malaysia as Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin's second minute cross went a begging as a sliding Faisal Saari failed to connect it home.

There were a few more chances after that, but poor finishing denied Malaysian an early lead.

And after 10 minutes, the Kiwis finally came out from their own half only to be denied by S. Kumar who made some diving saves on field attempts.

As the clock ticked away towards half-time, the most hardworking player on the Malaysian side was Baljit Singh, who defended his semi-circle like a lion. 

The biggest cheer came in the 25th minute, when Tengku Ahnad Tajuddin's attempt found Chua Boon Huat's stick, but the ball tricked out inches wide.

New Zealand won heir second penalty corner in the 30th minute, and this time Marhan Jalil charged to deny the Kiwis.

Malaysia opened scoring in the 40th minute when Marhan charged down the right and squared the ball to Chua, who had the presence of mind to flick the ball into the roof of the net.

Malaysia has umpire Harsha Vardhan Gandham of India to thank for playing a good advantage as he had signaled for a penalty corner but followed through the whistling to award a goal.

Four minutes later a deflection by Tengku Ahmad hit Andy Hayward and sailed into goal, catching New Zealand keeper Devon Manchester on the wrong foot.

And the stadium erupted with joy as Malaysia were on their way to victory.

Arun Panchia had the ball in the net in the 53rd minute but was adjudged by umpire John Wright of South Africa to have fouled Baljit Singh.

New Zealand reduced the deficit in the 65th minute as Shay Neal dived full length to turn in a pass from Andy Hayward of their second penalty corner.

But Malaysia kept their composure to register their second win.