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India beat Australia 'A'
May 28, 2003 20:31 IST
India started their campaign in the three-nation Hockey Australia Men's Challenge on a promising note, defeating Australia 'A' 2-0 in their opening match in Perth on Wednesday.
But things were not as good for arch-rivals Pakistan in the inaugural match of the tournament as they were blanked 3-0 by Australia.
India's match progressed on expected lines, with the second-string Australia team hardly posing any real threat to the visitors.
The Indians dominated the proceedings right from the word go and former skipper Dilip Tirkey scored the first goal in the 25th minute, converting a penalty-corner.
Leading 1-0 at half-time, India started to take more chances and the efforts paid dividends when Gagan Ajit Singh, who led India in the junior World Cup-winning campaign, capped a strong run-up with a goal in the 60th minute.
The hosts tried hard to make a fight of the match but the Indian defence, led by Tirkey, proved a wee bit too strong.
Australia 'A' goalkeeper Stephen Lambert had a fine game and it was because of his brilliant saves that restricted India.
India coach Rajinder Singh was satisified with the performance of his boys but cautioned the team to keep its focus on the tougher battles ahead, hinting at India's much-anticipated encounter against Pakistan on Saturday.
"I think the boys played well considering it was their first match of the international season. The opposition put up a good show but our team was prepared," Rajinder said.
"We are now concentrating on the match against Australia tomorrow and against Pakistan on Saturday. Both are going to be very tough," he said.
Rajinder tried to play down the hype that has already built around India's match with arch-rivals Pakistan, saying the team "will treat it as any other match".
Earlier, Australia got off to a flier, beating Pakistan 3-0 in the tournament opener.
Australia, playing their first international in almost three months, showed their class in patches but it was enough to beat an under-strength Pakistan side, without key players Sohail Abbas and former captain Mohammed Nadeem who were not selected for the tour on disciplinary grounds.
Brent Livermore (14the minute), Troy Elder (29th) and Nathan Eglington (61st) scored the goals for Australia.
Australia took the lead after 14 minutes when the combination of Elder and Jamie Dwyer helped set up a penalty-stroke, which Livermore converted.
The second goal came six minutes before half-time when Elder, who impressed the most, smashed home from a penalty-corner before Eglington secured the result in the 61st minute with a diving effort from a goal-mouth scramble following a penalty-corner.
Goalkeeper Mark Hickman was superb for Australia, blunting the Pakistan attack and thwarting many penalty-corner attempts.
"I was pleased with the way Mark Hickman played in goal and keeping the opposition scoreless was a deserving result for him," Australia coach Barry Dancer said.
He also lauded the efforts of Matthew Wells and Jamie Dwyer, who were creative up front.
Australia's first goal came in the 14th minute when a clever piece of play by Michael McCann forced a penalty-stroke which was converted by Brent Livermore. Dwyer's backstick cross found McCann unmarked near the top right of the circle and he calmly rounded Pakistani goalkeeper Ahmad Alam before his shot was stopped by a defender's foot on the way to goal.
Elder then converted a low drag flick to the left of Alam to give Australia a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Pakistan's best chances of the half fell to Muddassar Khan but Hickman was equal to the challenge.
The hosts completed the rout nine minutes from time when Nathan Eglington flung himself forward to tap the ball home following a penalty corner rebound.
Australia play India tomorrow.