India squander lead to lose 1-3 to Australia
A spirited India squandered a goal lead to lose 1-3 against defending champions Australia in a preliminary league match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, here on Tuesday.
After managing to hold the world champions in the first quarter, India took the initial lead in the 25th minute through a field goal from Harmanpreet Singh, but Australia later pumped in three field goals to maintain their position atop the round-robin league standings.
Eddie Ockenden (30th minute), Tom Craig (34th) and Tom Wickham (51st) showed why Australia are one of the most feared teams in the world through their outstanding field goals as the Indian challenge faded in the last quarter. Nine-time winners of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Australia now have seven points from three outings, while last year's runner-up India are on four points after three matches.
Australia went into attacking mode from the start, forcing the first penalty corner in the opening minute, but the Indian defenders rushed out to close the angle.
Craig's deflection on Dylan Wotherspoon's cross in the third minute went wide of the mark before India earned a penalty corner two minutes later. The push was neatly stopped, but Harmanpreet could not gather the ball as he stepped into the drag-flick motion.
Goalkeeper P R Sreejesh blocked a deflection by Craig in the seventh minute before the Indians came into the attacking frame. Akashdeep Singh fed a short pass to Mandeep Singh in the circle in the eighth minute, but he was tightly marked and failed to create any space. India forced their second penalty corner a minute later but Rupinderpal Singh's rising flick was palmed back into play by Australian custodian Tyler Lovell.
Akahsdeep then tried a deflection on Pradeep Mor's diagonal cross from right, only to direct it wide in the 11th minute.
Soon after Sreejesh limped off the pitch as he got injured while diving for a long diagonal ball into the circle.
He was replaced by Akash Chikte in goal in the 13th minute.
Both Australia and India had a penalty corner reversed on video referral three minutes into the second quarter. Sardar Singh then created an opening for India in the 23rd minute through a fine run down the centre, beating two defenders to move into the scoring circle and then beating the third with his square pass to Akashdeep. But Akashdeep could not control his reverse shot and the ball went high and wide.