Ipoh, 16 April 2016: Australia defeated India by 4-0 to win the 25th edition of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, Ipoh, Perak in Malaysia. The hosts Malaysia were edged out (5-4) in shoot-out by New Zealand in Bronze medal match after being locked at 3-3 after final hooter. Pakistan defeated Canada by 3-1 to finish fifth.
Having learnt their lessons from the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2016 league game against the Australians India, didn’t allow them a fast start into the game. Defending deep and swarming in numbers, they completed the first quarter without allowing Australia any significant circle penetrations or shots on goal. A single PC, late in the quarter was swept wide by Jeremy Hayward.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, as India defended deep as Australia looked for an opening to take the lead. With half time getting closer, India started exerting their influence on the game, hitting the Australians on the counter to create chances. A cross into the circle from Chinglesana on the right seemed destined for Mandeep’s deflection into goal, before Fergus Cavanagh’s interception took it away for a long corner.
Australia took the lead in the 25th minute, after Thomas Craig cut past two Indian defenders from the top of the circle to lash in their opener. India had a chance with minutes left for the break when Mark Knowles blocked an SV Sunil shot to ensure the two teams went into halftime separated by the single goal.
India started stronger off halftime, immediately stealing the ball from Australia and aggressively creating pressure at the top of the box before Nikkin Thimmaiah missed an opportunity to draw them level.
They won their first PC of the game in the 34th minute. Harmanpreet Singh’s drag flick was carried away by goalkeeper Andrew Charter, before he astonishingly recovered to deny Sunil the rebound.
Australia though, stout in defence, rolled back to their counter attacking style to score their second goal to kill the game. A one-touch passing move from the half way line was capped off by Thomas Craig for his second of the game. Their third came from Matt Gohdes’s stick in the 43rd minute.
Australia kept firm control of the game in the final quarter not allowing India a way back, before Matt Gohdes scored a fourth goal in the 57th minute to cap off their victory.
Australia head coach, Graham Reid said after winning the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2016: “It was a really first class performance for the boys today. Good to see some of the things we’ve worked on a lot this tour being put into action. It was a really good defensive effort, one particularly in the third quarter and one towards the end of the game. The boys really worked hard throughout the game. It was great to see a couple of nice goals in there from Tom as well. There’s a long way to go to Rio, so it’s important to celebrate these milestones, but we’ll be back into training next week.”
Speaking after the final match of Sutlan Azlan Shah Cup 2016, India coach Roelant Oltmans said, “We went up against the best team in the world, playing their best game and came up short. It is a creditable finish for us, since we had a team that was a mix of young inexperienced players and veterans working together for the first time. This is a good warm up for us, leading to the Olympics.”