FIH Pro League 2020: The hosts India could not have asked for more. A win in the penalty shootout against the defending champions Australia helped World number 4 to reiterate some of its opening game lost pride. While India ended its two games with two points, Australia got four points, including one from the scheduled time drawn game of 2-2.
The penalty shootout win this evening before a packed Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar, India proved a point that its current ranking was no fluke as it had beaten both Belgium and the Netherlands in earlier games.
Australia was unlucky as not only two of its goals were turned down by Video Referrals but also they muffed a penalty stroke during the run of play. Though India, too, had its own story of missed chances but it had the final consolation of getting a bonus points from the penalty shootout win.
*Jake Havey finds the target, but it is after the eight seconds. After a lengthy check on from the video referral, India won the shoot-out to take the bonus point
*Lalit Upadhyay (India) scored
*Nathan Ephraums (Australia) missed
*Great stick save by Sreejesh
*Vivek Prasad (India) scores
*Tim Brand was fouled by PR Sreejesh. Resultant Daniel Beale’s Penalty Stroke effort was wide of the mark.
*Harmanpreet Singh (India) scored
*When Australia attempted its first penalty shootout, Daniel Beale felt that there was a foul and appealed to the video umpire, who agreed. A Penalty Stroke was awarded. Matt Dawson scores
A penalty corner 11 seconds before the close had given the Hockeyroos a chance to go for an outright win. Matt Dawson’s penalty corner slap-shot was blocked brilliantly by the onrushing Amit Rohidas. Thus the match finished level, earning a point for each team.
Australia ended the game with its ninth penalty corner. But none of these awards proved productive for the defending champions. The game goes to the penalty shootout.
Two minutes from the final whistle, Vivek intercepted a loose Australian pass and drived into the circle, but a brilliant tackle from Tim Howard knocked the ball away from Vivek just as he was about to strike on his backhand.
In the 54 the minute there was injury to Raj Kumar Pal as he left the field after taking a blow to the head from the ball, deflecting up off an Australian stick. Raj seemed ok, although he had a cut that would need some attention and probably ruled him out of the remainder of this match. Moments after Raj’s injury, Australia’s Trent Mitton was hit in the mouth with an attempted overhead pass, and he too left the field of play.
Earlier, Raj Kumar Pal – who scored twice for India yesterday – was shown a green card two minute suspension for a pretty clumsy challenge on Australia’s Daniel Beale. However, Raj returned to the field with the scoreboard unchanged.
Australia pulled level within a minute of the start of the fourth quarter! Aran Zalewski was left completely unmarked in the India circle and punished the hosts, slapping a first time effort that was too hot to handle by India goalkeeper Krishan Pathak.
A rapid Australian break forward allowed Tim Brand the chance to shoot on the turn, but his effort hit a teammate.
Two minutes before the end of the third quarter, India’s Ramandeep found space on the right of the Australian circle but blazed his powerful strike high and wide of the mark.
India’s Manpreet Singh, like yesterday, served a green card suspension in the third quarter. Three minutes into the second half, Australia’s Tim Brand missed Penalty Stroke. He did send Sreejesh the wrong way, but his low effort hit the outside of the right post. A huge opportunity squandered.
Hayward goal was ruled out in the 32nd minute. Australia win two penalty corners, the first of which was charged down before a second was awarded. Jeremy Hayward scored with a drag-flick, but the on-field umpire checked with the video umpire, who deemed Hayward’s initial flick was too high and the goal was ruled out. That was now eight penalty corner and no goals for Australia, although they came mighty close there.
India went into half time with a 2-1 lead. Australia struck first through Trent Mitton’s open play strike, but penalty corner drag-flicks from Rupinder and Harmanpreet had turned the match very much in favour of the hosts.
Two goals in two minutes for India! Harmanpreet Singh was the scorer this time, launching a drag-flick towards goal that takes a touch of Australia’s Tim Brand before sailing into the net. India had scored twice from three penalty corners in this match, while Australia currently at zero from six PC attempts.
India were back on level terms! Rupinder Singh sent a low drag-flick through the legs of Australia goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. It was Rupinder’s fifth goal of the FIH Hockey Pro League season, moving him level with Jip Janssen in second place in the scorer’s chart.
Australia tried a variation move with its sixth penalty corner of the game, with Matt Dawson slapping for goal. However, Pathak clears the danger.
The goalless deadlock was broken in the second quarter. India goalkeeper Krishan Pathak – who replaced Sreejesh at the quarter-time break – was beaten at his near-post with a powerful slap-shot from Trent Mitton. Pathak did not leave much for Mitton to aim at, but the Australian somehow squeezed the ball into the smallest of spaces.
In the 18th minute when Australia got its fifth penalty corner India defended well and stood firm again. Jeremy Hayward’s drag-flick from the top of the circle was charged down. It was also deemed to have been too high anyway. In the first quarter, Australia had the better of the chances, not to mention having a goal ruled out, but it was 0-0 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Australia continued to press hard and earned a penalty corner, its 4th but failed to convert. Aran Zalewski powered into the circle from the left and won a penalty corner. India appealed to the video umpire, but there was no clear reason to change the decision and India lost its right to further referrals. Jeremy Hayward flicked for goal but again Sreejesh was equal to the effort.
The first 10 minutes were evenly contested.
With three penalty corners, Australia clearly had the better of the scoring chances, but there was very little to choose between the two teams as India defended better than yesterday.
In the eighth minute, Lachlan Sharp strike was ruled out. The initial penalty corner found an Indian foot and another was awarded and this time the Australians found the target when Lachlan Sharp fired a rebound into the goal. However, India appealed to the video umpire claiming obstruction on goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. Video umpire Simon Taylor agrees, and the goal was ruled out.
It has been virtually all India since Australia’s early penalty corner chance, with the hosts pinning the Kookaburras deep in their own territory. No clear-cut opportunities, but this was a far better start from India compared to Friday’s match.
Australia started the second game well earning a penalty corner inside the opening 30 seconds. Jeremy Hayward flicked for goal, but India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh stood tall to make a relatively comfortable save.
A quick reminder about what happened when the two sides met yesterday:
Australia’s men have moved up to third place in the FIH Hockey Pro League thanks to a thrilling 4-3 victory over hosts India yesterday.
The Kookaburras were at their imperious best in the first, second, and third quarters, dominating the home favourites to open up a 4-1 lead thanks to goals from Dylan Wotherspoon, Tom Wickham, Lachlan Sharp and Jacob Anderson. However, India produced a spirited performance in the final quarter, with Raj Kumar Pal adding to his third quarter penalty corner with a stunning field goal to make it 4-2 before Rupinder Singh’s superb penalty corner drag-flick pulled India to within one goal going into the final eight minutes. Rupinder had a glorious chance to level the scores with a last minute penalty corner, but his effort sailed wide of the mark, giving Australia all three points.
Australia’s Lachlan Sharp, who was named Player of the Match, said that he was “definitely disappointed” with the final quarter, but was pleased with the overall performance and was quick to comment about the strength and depth of the Kookaburras squad. “It [the fourth quarter] was not what we wanted, but to have a good defence in the end and hold them out, it was a good win. We have a squad of 27 who can step up on their day and play their role. I think we showed that tonight. The Kalinga Stadium is always a great place to play, we love the support of the Indian crowd, so thank you for that.”
India captain Manpreet Singh also gave his thoughts regarding his team’s performance: “I think we are quite disappointed because we didn’t start well, conceding three goals. In the fourth quarter we came back and actually played our game, and because of that we scored two goals. I think we didn’t create many chances in the first three quarters but in the last quarter we did, so we need to come back [strong] for tomorrow’s match.”