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Hockey: India lose 0-4 to World No. 2 Australia

Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi: India caved in under pressure as they conceded two goals in each half to go down 0-4 to Australia in their hockey match in Perth on Wednesday.

After remaining unbeaten in their first three matches on the Australian Tour the Indians slumped to a heavy defeat a in their fourth match.

Blake Govers (15’, 60’) and Jeremy Hayward (20’, 59’), both scored a brace each to help the World No. 2 team in defeating the visitors.

The visitors opened well pressing their rivals higher up the field, but suffered two successive blows as they ended up conceding twice in five minutes.

Indians earned an early Penalty Corner in the 5th minute, but Harmanpreet ’s shot was successfully blocked by the first rusher. In the 12th minute, Harmanpreet was in action again as he played a one-two with Nilakanta Sharma on the right flank, who relayed -ball back to the defender, but Harmanpreet could not get to the ball quickly enough as it rolled past him into touch.

The hosts were awarded their first penalty corner in the 15th minute which led to stroke. 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 Captain Eddie Ockenden was present to deflect it behind to avoid a scare.

The visitors conceded another penalty corner five minutes later and Jeremy Hayward made no mistake in converting it to make 2-0 for the hosts.

Struggling to keep possession, India created few good openings and in the 27th A minute they earned their fifth Penalty Corner through Sumit Kumar, but Goalkeeper Johan Durst made a brilliant double-save from Harmanpreet ’s shots to deny the visitors.

In the action-packed third quarter India looked to find a way back into the match. However, Australia’s defenders led by their Captain, made sure that the visitors did not get a sneak.

The visitors started the last quarter well and Captain Manpreet 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.

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.

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