India booked a berth in the final of the Junior Hockey World Cup after defeating Australia 4-2, via shootout, in Lucknow on Friday.
The hosts will play Belgium in the title round, their first Jr World Cup final in 15 years.
India came back strongly after being a goal down. The hosts scored two skillful field goals in the second half through Gurjant Singh (42nd minute) and Mandeep Singh (48th) after Australia took the lead through Tom Craig (14th).
But just when it was certain that India were walking away with the game, their defence conceded a soft goal and Lachlan Sharp (57th) drew level for Australia to take the match into shoot-out, and after full time, the scores were level at 2-2.
For India, Sumit, Harmanpreet, Harjeet, Manpreet found the back of the net in the shootout.
Vikas Dahiya was the star performer for the hosts as he made crucial saves in the shootout and allowed Australia to score only two goals.
On Sunday, while India will vie for the gold medal against Belgium, Australia will face Germany in the Bronze medal match.
India had the better share of possession in the opening half but it was Australia who utilised their chances.
Australia utilised the first chance they got in the match when they earned their opening penalty corner in the 13th minute and Tom Craig scored from the third attempt with a reverse shot from close range after the initial flick and rebound were saved by the Indian defence.
Australia preferred to sit back and rely mainly on counters to surprise the Indians.
The Burras secured two consecutive penalty corners in the 22nd minute but this time India goalkeeper Dahiya came to his side’s rescue to deny Blake Govers from the second attempt.
India pressed hard and minutes later earned two back to back penalty corners but Harmanpreet Singh failed to find the back of the net on both occasions.
In the 32nd minute, Varun Kumar found Vikramjit Singh inside the circle but the latter’s shot went straight to Australian goalkeeper Ashleigh Thomas’s pads.
The hosts had their best opportunity of the opening half in the next minute when Varun's long scoop from deep found Simranjeet Singh unmarked inside the circle after an Australian defender fumbled, but the striker pushed wide with only the rival custodian to beat.
Australia got the first chance after the change of ends when they earned their fourth penalty corner but the stopper fumbled to control the injection.
Trailing by a goal, India went all out attacking in search of the equaliser and their efforts bore fruit in the 42nd minute through a fierce reverse shot strike from Gurjant from a tight angle after he was set up by Simranjeet's brilliant play.
Pumped up by the equaliser, the Indians went for the kill and six minutes later took the lead through Mandeep, who scored his third goal of the tournament.
The credit for India’s second goal entirely should go to Mandeep who first intercepted an Australian defender’s miss-scoop and then played little one-two with Nilkanta Singh before unleashing a reverse hit underneath the Australia custodian into the board.
Stunned by India’s strike, Australia went into attacking mode and in the process secured two consecutive penalty corners, the second of which was brilliantly parried away by Vikas in front of the Indian goal.
But a lapse in concentration from the Indian defence saw Australia equalise in the 57th minute.
Belgium stunned six-time champions and title holders Germany 4-3 in the shoot out to progress to their maiden final of the men’s Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow on Friday.
Belgium rode on their goalkeeper Loic van Doren’s superb display in the shoot-out to register the upset win after the two teams failed to break the deadlock in regulation 70 minutes.
Van Doren made two brilliant saves in the shoot-out to deny Germany’s Philip Schimid and Tim Herzbruch.
The Germans came into the match as favourites but it was Belgium who controlled the proceedings and created more chances for most part of the game.
If not for goalkeeper Lennart Kuppers, Germany could have lost the match in regulation time as he made some brilliant saves in the match to keep away the ever-charging Belgians.
In the shoot-out, Germany replaced their regular custodian Kuppers for shoot-out specialist Niklas Garst, but it did not help the defending champions as he could pull off just one save.
For Belgium, Nicolas Poncelet, Arthur de Sloover, Henri Raes and Robbert Rubens scored in the shoot-out while Johannes Grobe, Ole Thies Prinz and Constantin Staib were the successful converters.
Earlier in the day, Japan eked out a narrow 2-1 win over Asian rivals Korea in the 13th-14th place classification match, while Egypt defeated Canada by identical margin to avoid the wooden spoon.
For Japan, Kota Watanabe (55th) and Koji Yamasaki (70th) scored for the winners while Seyong Oh found the net for Korea.
In the match to avoid the wooden spoon, Canada surged ahead in the 35th minute through a penalty corner conversion by Rohan Chopra before Egypt found the net twice in the second half through Mohamed Gadelkarim (58th) and Ahmed Elganaini (67th).