After remaining unbeaten in their first three matches of the Australia Tour 2019, World No. 5 Indian men’s hockey team slumped to a 0-4 defeat to Australia in their fourth match at the Perth Hockey Stadium on Wednesday. Australia’s Blake Govers (15’, 60’) and Jeremy Hayward (20’, 59’) scored a brace each to help the World No. 2 team in defeating the visitors.
India started the match well as they pressed Australia higher up the field, but were dealt two successive blows as they ended up conceding twice in five minutes. The visitors had earlier earned themselves an early Penalty Corner in the 5th minute, but Harmanpreet Singh’s shot was successfully blocked by the first rusher. In the 12th minute, Harmanpreet Singh was in action again as he played a one-two with Nilakanta Sharma on the right flank, who played in a well-calculated through-ball back to the Defender, but Singh could not get to the ball quickly enough as it rolled past him into touch.
With just seconds remaining on the clock, Australia were awarded their first Penalty Corner of the match, and it resulted in India conceding their first goal as the resulting execution saw Australia being awarded a Penalty Stroke. Australia’s Blake Govers stepped up to take the set-piece and did not make a mistake as he hit the ball past PR Sreejesh into the top-left corner to give his side a 1-0 lead.
India started the second quarter in attacking style as Birendra Lakra played a hard-hit ball into the centre of the circle, but Australia’s Captain Eddie Ockenden was present to deflect it behind to avoid a scare. However, on the other end of the pitch, Birendra Lakra was in action again and was penalized for a back-stick inside the 15-yard circle, which resulted in a Penalty Corner in the 20th minute.
The resulting execution saw Indian Goalkeeper Krishan Pathak give away another Penalty Corner, and India ended up conceding their second goal as home team’s Jeremy Hayward beautifully flicked the ball low into the right side of goal and beat Pathak on his left hand to score Australia’s second goal of the match. The young Indian Goalkeeper was called into action again three minutes later as he saved a drag-flick off another Penalty Corner. Aaron Kleinschmidt missed a great chance in the 25th minute as he found himself unmarked inside the box, but shot just wide of the post.
Struggling to keep possession, India tried to create an opportunity of their own as they earned themselves a Penalty Corner in the 26th minute, but the umpire deemed that Harmanpreet Singh obstructed the Australian defender and awarded them a free-hit. A minute later, India won their fifth Penalty Corner through Sumit Kumar, but Australia’s Goalkeeper Johan Durst made a brilliant double-save from Harmanpreet Singh’s shots to deny the visitors. Australia’s fifth Penalty Corner in the last minute of the second quarter saw Trent Mitton’s shot forcing a great save by Pathak on his right side, which meant Australia took their two-goal advantage into the half-time break.
The third quarter was a well-balanced period between the two teams as they battled for possession. It was action-packed as India looked to find a way back into the match. However, Australia’s defending led by their Captain, made sure that the visitors did not get a sneak. Both the teams tried to create opportunities in the latter stages of the third quarter, but neither could manage to create a shooting chance, which meant that Australia retained their 2-0 advantage with 15 minutes left to play.
India started the last quarter well and it was Captain Manpreet Singh who created the first chance as he ran into the striking circle and shot at goal, but Australia’s Durst made a diving stop on his left side to deny the visitors. The 51st minute saw India win a Penalty Corner as Akashdeep Singh’s shot was saved by the Goalkeeper but the rebound was too high. Harmanpreet Singh’s resulting execution was saved by the Goalkeeper well, but the next minute saw India win another Penalty Corner through strong wing-play. India’s Rupinderpal Singh took the Penalty Corner but the shot hit an Indian leg, which meant Australia were awarded a free-hit.
India tried to find a goal in the closing stages, and replaced their Goalkeeper with an outfield player. The move resulted in Australia scoring two goals in the last two minutes, the first coming off a Penalty Corner in the 59th minute which was scored by Jeremy Hayward, while the second came in the last minute as Blake Govers scored through a fierce shot off the reverse stick to make it a 4-0 victory for the Australians, and rounded off a disappointing day for the Indian team.
The Indian Men’s Hockey team will be in action again on Friday, 17th May 2019 at 1600hrs IST, as they take on Australia in their fifth and last match of the Australian Tour 2019.