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India outplayed by Australia
January 13, 2004 19:15 IST
Last Updated: January 13, 2004 21:03 IST
India blew away a 2-0 lead to crash to their third defeat in four matches, with a 2-4 loss against Australia, in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Skipper Dhanraj Pillay ended a long goal-drought with a double-strike in the 15th and 16th minutes to put India ahead 2-0 at the National Stadium.
However, the Indians failed to drive home the advantage and allowed the Australians back into the match.
Tristram Woodhouse (27th), Troy Elder (42nd), Ben Taylor (50th) and Grant Schubert (70th) ensured an Aussie success, their second in four outings.
After an excellent workout in the first-half, the Indians gradually faded as the Aussies, enjoying considerable space and freedom in the midfield, made the best of the situation.
The Indians, thus, continue to occupy the last spot with just one point from the drawn game with Malaysia.
The first-half more or less belonged to India whose players showed considerable skill as well as gumption in standing up to the Aussies.
The deep defence, marshalled by William Xalco, put in a fine performance to repeatedly thwart the Aussies.
Up front, the Indian counter-attacks assumed dangerous proportions thanks to some intelligent off-the-ball running on the wings that stretched the Aussie defence.
The Aussies, after some early forays, could not sustain the momentum and some uncharacteristic errors in the mid-field virtually helped the Indians who then mounted some fast counter-attacks.
Past the 15th minute, came the first goal when Vikram Pillay flicked to his left to Hari Prasad, who in turn centered for Dhanraj to ram home.
Even before the Aussies could digest the reverse, the Indian captain snatched the ball from Josh Hawes and then cleverly flicked over the onrushing goalkeeper to give his side 2-0 lead.
Thereafter, the Aussies managed to make some inroads into the Indian defence and forced three penalty corners in a six-minute spell. Off the third, Woodhouse made an indirect conversion that the Indians hotly disputed.
In the final moments of the first half, the Indians had a couple of more scoring opportunities, but wrong passes saw them wasting these chances.
Early in the second half, Elder made an indirect penalty corner conversion to put Aussies on level terms.
The Australians then mounted pressure and broke the Indian resistance when Taylor scored after Xalco cleared on the goal-line off an attempt by Travis Brooks.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, India replaced goalkeeper Kamaldeep Singh with Adrian D'Souza who thus had his first feel of the competition. He effected a couple of saves, but let in the final goal when Schubert beat him on the second attempt.