The Asian Games Champions India defeated the hosts and World Champions Australia 3-1 in the fourth and last match of the series being played at the Perth Hockey Stadium, and won the series 3-1. The series victory over mighty Kookaburras will be big boost in Indian team’s confidence before next month’s Champions Trophy at Bhubaneswar (6-14 December, 2014).
Replay of 4th test match between Australia and India is here:
Upbeat on the last two triumphs (2-1 in 2nd match and 1-0 in 3rd match) against Australia, India opened the first half of the game with all strength and dynamism as a result of which the initial goal of the match came in as early as in the 13th minute into the game from the stick of Akashdeep Singh of India, who scored off a penalty corner in goal mouth melee. This gave India a lead of 1-0 and an upper hand in the game. Later on, a couple of penalty corners were awarded to both the teams in the second quarter but none succeeded in materializing the opportunity. When the whistles blew for half-time, the scoreboard displayed a score of 1-0, indicating a trail for the hosts.
Australia made a strong comeback in the second half as Thomas Craig effectively converted a penalty corner into the first goal for the hosts in the 36th minute of the game, taking the score to 1-1. The game became a lot more tight after this equalizer as both the teams looked for creating chances to score. In the final quarter of the game, it was Akashdeep Singh for the second time that scored a stunning field goal in the 50th minute and in no time S. K Uthappa of India faultlessly scored another field goal in the 53rd minute thereby taking the score to 3-1 for India. In the dying minutes of the match, the Australians tried desperately to put the ball in the net but Indian goal keeper P R Sreejesh’s brilliant saves held them from scoring.
The final score stood at 3-1 indicating a well deserved victory and a series win for the Indian boys. This success became even more special as Indian midfielder and Captain Sardar Singh completed his 200th international match, today.
Summing up the Kookaburras’ performance over the past four tests, head coach Graham Reid commented on the teams highs and lows throughout the series.
“If you look behind the scoreboard, the internal scores and stats were great tonight, with the team back to where they needed to be. One of the biggest things to take out of this series is that the Kookaburras daily training environment is very important, which is why we try to centralise train them. We have just played a team who have been together for three years, and our guys have only been together for five days. The idea behind this series was to give the guys some experience and exposure, and I think we have achieved that.”
With the 2014 men’s Champions Trophy commencing in 30 days time, Reid gave insight into the type of team they are looking to build ahead of the tournament.
“It will consist mainly of this group however, there are a couple to come back from injury and overseas.”
New South Wales’, Tom Craig experienced his first Kookaburras celebration after scoring not only the team’s only goal for the night, but his first international goal for the Kookaburras.
“I was pretty happy about getting my first goal tonight, our performance has improved from our previous match however, there is still a lot of work to do before the Champions Trophy.”
Simon Orchard made his way from the commentator’s box back onto the field tonight, after missing out on the first three tests of the series due to a broken thumb.
Discussing his thoughts on how the team played and his recovery, Orchard commented, “It’s been a disappointing way to finish off the series. We haven’t played as well as we hoped over the last week however, in saying that tonight was a better performance in creating opportunities and limiting India’s opportunities. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t convert our opportunities, and they managed to sneak a few goals in. On a positive note, it has been a really good crowd again tonight which is great for hockey in Australia.”
“Recovery has been hard, I have been doing a lot of running up and down the side of the field with a lot of laughing coming from the boys on the field, but in all seriousness, the thumb feels good and I’m ready to go.”
After missing the Australian Hockey League also due to injury, Kookaburra Nick Budgeon commented on his performance after coming out of rehab and back onto the field with minimal training. He said, “Personally I was a bit sluggish coming back from injury however, it was nice to be back out there with the guys. I missed the AHL and had five weeks in rehab, tonight is my first real solid session since being back, and I’m sure I will be sore tomorrow.”
The Kookaburras will now prepare for the Hero Hockey Champions Trophy 2014, in Bhubaneswar, India from 6-14 December. The selected Champions Trophy squad will be announced by Hockey Australia in the coming week.