Hockey Perspectives

Fighting India Done in by the Flair of Tom Craig & Blake Govers’ Late Surge in Thriller

It was the sublime run of Tom Craig and a late surge from Blake Govers that paved the way for world number one Australia to close out a nail-biting 5-4 win over world number five India in the first of the five Test series at the MATE Stadium in Adelaide. Playing under hot weather conditions, both teams took their time to settle down before Tom Craig rushed down the middle and dodged past Harmanpreet Singh and fed Lachi Sharp who unleashed a tomahawk that sailed into the top corner of the Indian goal. Tom Craig was again in the thick of action, bursting down the left flank and relaying a precise pass to Nathan Ephraums for Australia’s second goal. India were kept in the contest by vastly experienced Akashdeep Singh, who scored once in first and second quarter – his second strike – a stinging reverse hit that brooked no answer from the Aussie deep defence.

India went ahead in the match for the first time in the third quarter after twice coming from behind when skipper Harmanpreet Singh profited from a short corner – Tom Craig brought Kookaburras back into the match scoring off a penalty corner rebound. The Indian captain became the country’s fourth most goal-scorer breaking Dhanraj Pillay’s record of 121 international goals and is now only behind Rupinder Pal Singh (125 Goals), Vokkaliga Raghunath (132 goals), and Sandeep Singh (138 Goals).

Blake Govers struck twice in the last three minutes even as Akashdeep Singh wrapped up a splendid hat-trick but his effort was not enough from the denying a win to the Australians. Govers’ match-clinching goal with seconds left for the final hooter surely denied India an honourable draw but there was no doubt that the Blueshirts walked off the pitch with their heads held high. It was also the first hat-trick by an Indian since Nikkin Thimmaiah scored one in the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.