INDIA qualified for the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup when they edged Malaysia 2-1 at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru Thursday.
With nine points, India are assured of a top-two finish and a chance to defend their title. Argentina and Britain, who square off today, might decide the other finalists.
Malaysia must now beat Pakistan on Saturday if they want to play in the bronze playoff.
"We had the chances to finish off this game, but could not perfect our finishing. Also we gave away too many penalty corers and we can't afford this in the Junior Asia Cup," said Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj.
India are in Malaysia's group in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan next month, which offers the semi-finalists a chance to play in the New Delhi World Cup next year.
"We had a good look at India today (yesterday) and this will be an invaluable experience when we play them again in Kuantan," said Arul.
Malaysia held India at arms length in the first half, as there was almost perfect stopping and passing, and the only thing lacking was shots at goal.
India won two penalty corners, early in the match, but good running and an alert goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi denied them an early lead.
As the Malaysian boys trooped into the dressing room, the capacity crowd gave them a rousing cheer for winning the fitness and sprints part of the match.
Mistakes crept into the Malaysian game in the second half, as the defenders gave away easy penalty corners to put pressure on themselves.
A total of eight penalty corners were given away, and Harmanpreet Singh scored in the 41st and 56th for a comfortable lead.
Malaysia put up a fight in the last five minutes, and Shahril Saabah scored his fifth penalty corner goal of the tournament for a 1-2 ending.
In another match, it was heart-break for Britain as they were denied a spot in the final when Australia equalised in the final minutes to hold them to a 4-4 draw.
The score was 4-3 in favour of Britain, and there was only two minutes remaining on the clock when Australia removed their goalkeeper and brought in a kicking back.
The move worked as they won a penalty corner, and Andrew Scanlon nailed the equaliser by placing the ball between goalkeeper Ashleigh Thomas' pads.
Britain got their goals off Jack Clee (8th), Luke Taylor (27th, 35th) and Jack Waller (67th). The Australian goals were scored by Ryan Proctor (31st), Frazer Gerrard (55th), Stephen Gale (65th) and Scanlon (70th).
RESULTS: Pakistan 1 Argentina 3, Britain 4 Australia 4, India 2 Malaysia 1.
FRIDAY: REST DAY
SATURDAY: Argentina v Britain (4.35pm), Australia v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8.35pm).
P W D L F A Pts
INDIA 4 3 0 1 13 8 9
BRITAIN 4 2 2 0 12 9 8
ARGENTINA 4 2 1 1 8 6 7
AUSTRALIA 4 1 1 2 12 10 4
MALAYSIA 4 1 1 2 8 10 4
PAKISTAN 4 0 1 3 4 14 1