Victoria: India went down to Australia in the final game of the two-match series 4-3. Playing with 10 men for large periods of the third quarter, India defended stoutly but were finally outlasted by the home side in a pulsating match on Wednesday.
The visitors were the first to rock the board, Akashdeep Singh scoring in the 6th minute to give them the lead. The home team settled into the game a bit as the period went on and at the end of the quarter, in the 13th minute scored via Trent Mitton. That goal would take both teams into the first break level at 1 goal apiece.
In an action-packed second quarter, Captain VR Raghunath gave India the lead off a superbly executed PC in the 22nd minute. Australia equalised via a PC of their own, converted by Jake Whetton in the 23rd minute. It was a frantic passage of play, both teams playing attacking hockey and constantly shifting the momentum. India had the final say though, another Raghunath goal via a PC giving them the lead as the teams went into half time.
In an ill-tempered third quarter that saw four yellow cards, three to Indian players, Australia wrested back the control, scoring an equaliser via a Jeremy Hayward PC conversion in the 38th minute. India were down by a player for long passages of play in the quarter, and were even stuck with nine on the field for a while with Nikkin Thimmaiah and Pardeep Mor both on yellow cards serving suspensions. The teams went into the final break level at 3-3.
Australia were the stronger team in the final period, and still holding a man advantage pressed the play constantly. In the 54th minute Hayward scored his second off a PC to give them the lead. India looked to make some inroads into the Australian defence and force an equaliser but the home side held on for a series levelling victory.