India go down 3-4 to Australia in Azlan Shah opener
The young Indian side displayed a spirited show against the Australians but failed to score an equaliser.
Ipoh, Malaysia: India lost to Australia 3-4 in a thrilling match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here on Saturday. Australia were 1-0 up at the end of first-half, thanks to the goal in the 25th minute by Matt Gohdes, who scored off a penalty corner.
The Kookaburras slotted in two more goals straight after the break, with Glenn Simpson (penalty corner, 38th) and Gohdes (39th) scoring within the gap of a minute. But India replied back in the 40th minute by a brilliantly taken penalty corner by Rupinder Pal Singh.
The frantic pace with which the game began in the second half continued further as both teams looked for more opportunities to score. Malak Singh netted in another goal for the Indians in the 52nd minute as he scored from a very difficult angle from the right side.
But Australia went 4-2 ahead, with Trent Milton scoring for them in the 53rd minute. India persevered hard and managed to get another goal in the dying minutes, with Rupinder Pal sending in an unstoppable push off a penalty corner in the 68th minute. Australia converted two out of six penalty corners, while India turned two of the three into goals.
Australia took control of the game within the first 10 minutes during which Indian goalkeeper P Sreejesh effected a couple of smart saves when Tim Bates took a few of shots. However, the Indian defence finally caved in the 24th minute when the Aussies got their first penalty corner.
While Sreejesh saved the hit, Gohdes who had pushed the ball, snapped it hard from the rebound to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Aussies started with a bang in the second half. First it was a penalty corner, which Simpson converted with the Indian defence being sold a dummy by one of the Australian players standing in the opposition striking circle. Before the Indians could get their acts together, it became 3-0 as Gohdes got his second goal in the 39th minute.
In the 41st minute, India managed to get their first short corner which Rupinder Pal converted. His drag flick was a powerful one which didn't give the Aussie defence a chance.
Having pulled a goal back, the Indian team came out of their shell with the likes of Mandeep Singh and Chingalsena trying to take control of the midfield.
In the 51st minute, talented Malak scored the best out of the seven goals in the match. As the pressure increased on the Aussie defence, they went on the counter and earned a penalty corner with the Indian defenders faltering for an umpteenth number of time on the day.
For once, Sreejesh was not at his best as he committed early on the drive. It was Milton, who was standing near the goalmouth chipped it over the diving goal-keeper to make it 4-2.
The Australians did get another penalty corner after this but the Indian defence was equal to its task as they foiled the attempt. Finally, when Rupinder Pal got his second and team's third goal, it was too late in the day and the Australians managed to hold on to their slender lead and logged home three points.
In an earlier match in the day, Pakistan edged out New Zealand 4-3.
(With inputs from PTI)