After two defeats against England and New Zealand, India held Olympic Champions Germany for 3-3 draw in the final Pool A match of the Hero Hockey World League Final in New Delhi to earn their first point in the tournament but finished last in Pool A.
The hosts India are up against the Pool B toppers Kookaburras in the quarter-final on Wednesday, while Germany will play the Netherlands. Pool A toppers England will be challenged by Belgium and New Zealand are pitched against Argentina in the cross over quarter-finals after the league stage. (Full Schedule Here)
The match – the 101st between two of international hockey’s most decorated teams – will pit India’s Australian Head Coach Terry Walsh against Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth, who has also coached in India in the Hockey India League and who acted as technical advisor to the Indian national teams in 2008.
The two sides, India and Australia, last met at the same stage of the World League Semi-Final tournament in Rotterdam in June when the Kookaburras ran out 5-1 winners.
In the match against Germany, India took the lead in the 19th minute after a shot was deflected into the German goal by Benedick Furk. The response from the enthusiastic crowd lifted the Indian team and the next few minutes saw some entertaining end-to-end hockey being played.
Germany were first to take advantage of a quick counter-attack, with captain Oliver Korn (24′) equalising from open play.
The game see-sawed from end-to-end and it was further nine minutes before India’s Rupinder Singh (33′) broke the deadlock to score from a penalty corner strike.
The second half began at a great pace, but Germany’s structure began to find holes in the India defence. A penalty corner was fired wide, before a hard pass into the circle found the merest touch of an Indian stick for the second own goal of the match (41′).
India continued to play with inventiveness, and the German goalkeeper Tim Jessulat was called to make two saves in quick succession. This pressure turned to a goal when Dharamvir Singh (52′) converted a penalty corner into a 3-2 lead.
Indian hearts were broken when Thilo Stralkowski (68′) scored the equaliser from open play, with just 2 minutes left on the clock.
Speaking at the conference post the match, Terry Walsh, Coach of the India team said, “I have quite happy with the team’s performance today. It was a quality game. The team was composed and showed lot of synergy. Defence was organised and the attack was electric. Young players played really well. We are consistently improving and will continue to fight and play the same way in the next match as well. We need to keep ourselves motivated and improve with every game.
Markus Weise, Coach of the German team said, “it was a bad performance from our side. I am not satisfied at how we played today. There were lot of mistakes in the field from our end. India lost first two games so they had to put lot of effort for a draw. We were little unlucky for scoring in the last minute but these things happen sometimes. India did a good job in the field with counter attacks and defended very well. They deserved the draw. Henceforth, we will focus game to game in this tournament as for us its a trial for world cup.