Perth (Australia), 05 November 2014: After 4-0 defeat at the hands of World Champions Australia in first match, India came back from 0-1 down to win 2-1 in 2nd mach against Kookaburras the second match of the India-Australia four-match test series, being played at Perth Hockey Stadium.
India started with aggressively and kept the opponents busy in the first two quarters of the match. In few occasions, they managed to sneak into Australian defence-line and created good opportunities to take initial lead. However, Australia drew the first blood in the 30thminute when forward player Matt Gohdes deflected a shot and sent the ball into the box, taking the lead 1-0 just before the end of 2nd quarter.
In the third quarter, Australia earned a penalty corner which was well-defended and caught the Australians on a quick counter. It was Sardar who cleverly passed the ball to Ramandeep Singh and the young forward made full use to score the equalizer in the 33rd minute.
The equalizer saw India increase its tempo and they attack yet again the very next minute, a turn over in mid-field followed by a quick through SV Sunil earned India lead. SV Sunil outran the Aussie defenders before finding his tomahawk on target to score earn lead and score the winning goal for India.
In the fourth quarter, both India and Australia fought neck-to-neck and challenged each other to score. India continued their attacking game till the last minute and tried to create more chances but they faced defensive Australia, who managed to hold the scorecard at 1-2 till the final whistle.
Kookaburras Coach Graham Reid once again gave youth its chance as the Kookaburras prepare for next month’s Champions Trophy with two more debutants in the green and gold, taking the series tally to five. When Tom Craig finally stepped out on Wednesday it was with as much relief as excitement and pride following a 48 hour scramble to secure an Australia passport in time to play. The Sydney-born 19 year old held a New Zealand passport through his parents but hadn’t ever applied for an Australian one, until he found himself falling foul of international hockey regulations.
And when goalkeeper Leon Hayward was introduced at the start of the second quarter he and younger brother Jeremy made their own bit of history, becoming the 19th brothers to represent Australia.
Afterwards, Kookaburras coach Graham Reid admitted his side hadn’t done enough. He said, “It’s hard to win when you don’t string passes together. That was one of the things we talked about – moving the ball quickly and passing. I don’t think we did that very well. We didn’t execute our skills well enough. India came out to play. They had been beaten 4-0 and we knew that they would come out and it would be a much more improved team and it was. We’ve got a good series happening and these young guys will learn a lot from it. It’s a very young group but that’s good. They’re learning what international hockey is about.”
The result – the Kookaburras’ first competitive defeat since losing to England at the World League Finals in January – sets up this weekend’s two remaining fixtures perfectly with the sides set to clash again in a double header on Saturday and Sunday.
Debutant Tom Craig admitted, “It’s a step up. That’s my first blood and it was end-to-end stuff just trying to keep up with the Indians. In the end it didn’t quite go our way but onwards to Saturday. You’re always going to be a little bit off the pace but I’m just glad for the opportunity. Hopefully, come Saturday some of the screws might be a little bit tighter and, hopefully, we can go on from there.“
Explaining his passport panic, he said, “It’s been a bit frantic, a bit hectic. Not dissimilar to the third quarter of that match. I travel on a New Zealand passport and the [Australian] birth certificate isn’t enough proof of citizenship so I’ve been scrambling around trying to get a passport. I got that today and [stepped] out on the pitch. The folks are Kiwis so blame them, I guess. It happens.”
Remaining two matches of the series will be played on 8th and 9th November at 1630 IST. Live Streaming of the matches will be available from Perth Hockey Stadium will be available on this website. Stay tuned!