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Azlan Shah 2017: India's Australia Woes Continue

Australia's 3-1 win over India was their third win against the Men in Blue in last two editions of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Jaspreet Sahni | News18 Sportsjaspreet_sahni

Updated:May 3, 2017, 9:55 AM IST
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Azlan Shah 2017: India's Australia Woes Continue
File image of Indian hockey team in action against Australia. (Getty Images)
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Ipoh: It was a strange turn of events that pushed the Australian thorn further into Indian flesh on Tuesday. India took the lead in the 26th minute and had the momentum by their side, but that when the phenomenon of ebbs and flows struck. The wave of energy suddenly gave up on the Indians, withdrew and flowed towards the Aussies. Seconds before the half-time buzzer, the Aussies equalised and didn't look back from there on.

Perhaps, the match was best summed up by India coach Roelant Oltmans, who said: "You know that Australia is always smelling (when) they can turn the momentum around and they did."

Also Read: India Squander Lead to Lose 1-3 to Australia

It ended 3-1, Australia's third win over India on the bounce in last two editions of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Oltmans may think India gave it away, but the result is nothing new as far as this tournament is concerned.

'IT'S ABOUT WINNING, NOT MATCHING THE OPPONENT'

Comparing this 1-3 defeat to last year in the tournament, India played much better. They took the lead and looked good but only to wither away.

In 2016 here, the results read 5-1 in the league stage and 4-0 in the final in favour of Australia. But getting overpowered and losing momentum has been a trend for India against their illustrious opponent.

The straight-forward Oltmans, in a way, admitted by saying that it's not about "matching" the opponent but "winning" against them.

"To lose against a very good team is part of the game. In quite a number of games (in the past) we did match Australia. But in the end it is not about matching, it is about winning. That is something we still have to learn. We are focused to do so," the Dutchman said.

India's last victory against Australia came in the two-Test bilateral series in November last year; but in multi-national tournaments, they have beaten the Kookaburras only once since the start of 2014, which was a 4-2 win in a pool match of 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The most painful of defeats came at the 2016 Champions Trophy, when India lost the final 3-1 in a penalty shootout against Australia and had to settle for a silver medal.

LOSING SREEJESH A BLOW, BUT NOT A TURNING POINT

PR Sreejesh limping off the field will worry any Indian fan of late, keeping in view India's fragile bench strength of the custodians. Akash Chikte stepped up and did reasonably well, but Sreejesh's absence was always going to hurt India.

The Indian star twisted his right knee while diving to make a save and hobbled off the field. The seriousness of his injury will only be known after he goes through an x-ray, but Oltmans refused to concede that Sreejesh's injury as a turning point.

"That is too simple to say because Sreejesh is not on the ground to stop the balls. That cannot be the reason why the match turned. It has to do more with execution of the game plan."

"After we were leading, we did not continue playing the way we were doing before. That is for me the reason or turning point in the game, not because Sreejesh got injured," the coach explained.

AUSTRALIA SNIFFED CHANGE IN MOMENTUM

Australia coach Colin Batch did second Oltmans' view on where the game changed hands.

India strangely slowed down after taking the lead while Australia, in contrast, upped the ante. They looked hungry to go into half-time back on level terms and a 30th minute strike by Eddie Ockenden provided that.

"When you are on top, you got to take full value. Perhaps India could have scored more than one goal (when they had the momentum). They may look back and say we could have done better from goals-scored point of
view. You take your chances when you can," Batch said.

India have four points from three matches now, with relatively easier games against Japan and Malaysia left to play, and Oltmans is looking at getting his processes right rather than watching other results.

Can it be an India-Australia final for the second year running? "Let's see," Oltmans said.

"Let's see when we meet them again. Other results are not in our hands. Let's not talk about that. We have four points, that's it. No more, no less. Very simple," he concluded.

| Edited by: Pratik Sagar
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