Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Playing with clinical efficiency Australia decimated India 7-1 for their second successive win in the Pool ‘ A’ Olympic Hockey match at the Oi Stadium In Tokyo on Sunday.
This was Australia’s biggest win over India in Olympic hockey, previous best was 6-1 at Montreal in 1976. Otherwise, their biggest victory margin over India is 8-0 in the Commonwealth Games final at New Delhi
World no 1, Australia made a dominating start with lethal attack that only got better as they progressed into the game. Tim Brand and Thomas Sharp led the charge into the striking circle early in the first quarter, and in the 10th minute that they converted to take the lead .Whetton took a powerful flick and James Beale put his stick in the way to deflect perfectly past India’s defence.
Though India created two good PCs in the 8th and the 15th minute, neither could be converted. Dilpreet too made a brave foray into the circle in the 13th minute but didn’t have enough support to finish the task.
In the second quarter, India’s defence crumbled as the Australians pumped three goals to stretch their lead to 4-0 at Half Time. It was Jeremy Hayward who scored Australia’s second goal through a PC in the 21st minute, Flynn Ogilvie in the 23rd minute and Joshua Beltz in the 26th minute.
While Australian attack put the pressure on India, their defence was tight enough to not allow any breach by the Indian forwards.
Even though India came back from the 10-minute break looking to make amends to their dismal first half, the two PCs they secured in the 32nd and 33rd minute was wasted away with poor trapping and execution.
India reduced the margin came in the 34th minute when Rupinder Pal slammed the ball into the circle towards the post which was well-deflected by young forward Dilpreet to beat Australia keeper Andrew Charter.
The goal gave Manpreet-led side some confidence as they forced Australia to make errors which seemed to work as they were awarded a PC in the 39th minute, due to a good video referral. Harmanpreet did well to release a powerful shot and Mandeep tried to get a stick on it but missed by a whisker.
Australia replied strongly to this when they forced India to make a defensive error that earned them a penalty stroke in the 40th minute. Blake Govers was on target as he put the ball past India’s Sreejesh and scored again in the 42nd minute through a PC taking Australian lead to 6-1.
Even though India made 24 circle penetrations as opposed to 22 by Australia in the match, they could not muster breaching Australia’s solid defence in the circle.
Making things worse for India, Tim Brand ended up scoring Australia’s 7th goal in the 51st minute when he received a long pass from the midfield only to control it well, dribble past Sreejesh and beat Birendra Lakra to extend the team’s lead and romp home a massive win.
India will next play Spain on 27th July