India Men Brought Down to Earth by Australia

The Indian men’s hockey team, who must have been feeling on ‘top of the world’ after a rare victory over world number one Australia in the third Test, were brought down to earth by the Kookaburras, who racked up a clincial 5-1 win to clinch the 5 Test series.

Smarting from a hard-fought 3-4 defeat to India, Australia took the course correction route and kept the Indian deep defence busy in the early exchanges before India parked themselves in the Australian ‘D’ in the first half – lack of clinical final finish meant that India had to wait till the 25th minute of play for their first goal – a brilliant opportunistic goal by Dilpreet Singh, who unleashed a potent backhander that brooked no answer from the Aussie goalkeeper.

India looked solid on the turf irrespecive what the final scoreline suggestions – they were patches of play when it appeared that the Blueshirts would spell trouble for the Australia. The Graham Reid-coached Indian outfit kept their structure in place and it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for Australia despite the latter’s best efforts.

India lost the plot in the closing stages of the first half when Australia sneaked in two goals in a span of eighty seconds – Jeremy Hayward showed he is the man the team can count on in the absence of his injured drag-flicking partner Blake Govers. The 29-year-old Darwin lad rifled in a drag-flick that beat PR Sreejesh all ends up. Hardly had the home side celebrated that goal, Eddie Ockenden, who equalled Jereon Delmee’s feat of 401 internationals, essayed a diagonal ball to Jack Welch who showcased his 3D skills to find his way the crowded Indian defence and fed an unmarked Jake Whetton who tapped home.

Australia killed off any comeback plans India may have envisioned at half-time when Jacob Anderson created a move on the right and relayed it to Tom Wickham who slammed home to tighten their grip on the contest. Jeremy Hayward completed a double off a short corner – his drag-flick grazing the outstretched legs of Krishan Pathak and rolling in.

Australia had clearly shut India out of the contest going into the final quarter although the visitors strived to mount a comeback. India were let down by PC conversions. Mathew Dawson made the most of a short corner in the closing stages to ensure Australia win the winning ways in style.

The win was also significant for Australia – it was Colin Batch’s 100th win as Australia coach since he took charge in early 2017. Indian midfielder Manpreet Singh equalled Pargat Singh’s feat of 313 internationals and in the process became India’s fifth most capped men hockey player.