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Indian colts go down to Australia in hockey final
January 19, 2009 13:54 IST
Last Updated: January 19, 2009 14:25 IST
A late golden goal by Jason Donohoe dashed India colts' gold medal hopes as Diwakar Ram and his teammates went down to Australia [Images] 1-2 in the nail-biting final of the boys' hockey event in the Australian Youth Olympics [Images] in Sydney on Sunday.
Although India had a fantastic run in the tournament with two wins and a draw in the league stages, they failed to finish off on a high note and had to be content with the silver medal.
The Indian girls, meanwhile, rose to the occasion and forced a 2-0 win over USA to bag the bronze medal.
In the boys' final at the Olympic Hockey Centre, A K Bansal's boys were clearly the better side, with larger share of ball possession but what was not in their favour was luck as they squandered several scoring chances.
In front of a capacity home crowd, the Aussies started on a positive note and surprised the Indians as early as the third minute when Kieren Govers found the net from a field goal.
Stung by the early reversal, the Indians made continuous forays into the Aussie citadel to restore parity but with little success.
Captain Diwakar Ram, who was sensational in the tournament with his drag-flicks, was nowhere near his best and squandered three penalty- corners in the first 20 minutes of the match.
India could have been down by two goals by 29th minute had it not been for custodian Mrinal Chaubey, who made a brilliant save from a penalty- corner to see his side go into the breather trailing by a goal.
The change of ends, however, witnessed a regrouped and rejuvenated Indian forward line-up -- Mandip Antil, Jay Karan, Pramod Kumar and Danish Mujtaba all showing more purpose in their attack.
They were quite aggressive in the second session and nearly equalized in the 43rd minute but Jay Karan's shot from a crowded penalty box went wide.
The hard work soon bore fruit when Pramod Kumar beautifully intercepted an Antil set-up to send home a crisp shot and level the scores.
From there on, both sides made attempts to break the deadlock but with no result, thereby forcing the match into extra-time.
As luck would have it for Indians, the hosts struck gold in the dying stages of the extra time when 20-year-old Canberra forward Donohoe found the net in the 76th minute to dash Indian hopes.
A disappointed Indian coach Bansal said although his side were by far the better team on display, what went against them was luck.
"I didn't expect to lose. In all, we were the better side. We had more chances, more ball possession than the Australians, but I think today luck didn't favour us," he said.
"Credit should also go to the Australian goalkeeper. He foiled all our penalty corner attempts."
Meanwhile, Rani Rampal and Ritu Rani Tindal scored in the 62nd and 68th minute to see the Indian eves secure the bronze medal in the four-nation tournament.
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