India produced an impressive display but wasted chances galore as they held defending champions and world number two Australia to a 1-1 draw in their opening pool match of the Hockey World League Final, in Bhubaneswar, on Friday.
Playing in front a partisan crowd at the floodlit Kalinga Stadium, India by far were the better side on display and outplayed Australia in terms of ball possession.
The Indians got off to an attacking start and scored the opening goal of the match through Mandeep Singh's field strike in the 20th minute. But it was equalised soon after when Jeremy Hayward converted a penalty corner for Australia (21st minute).
The Indians started on a bright note and played above their weight to create numerous scoring chances in the match but the forwards, especially Gurjant Singh and Akashdeep, were off colour.
India almost took the lead with the first move of the game. It was S V Sunil who started the move and set it up for an unmarked Gurjant inside the circle but the young striker's reverse was saved by an agile Tyler Lovell in front of the Australian goal.
Two minutes later, Lovell came to his side's rescue again as he made a double save to deny the hosts. First, he blocked Akashdeep's effort from close range and then made another fine to deny Gurjant for the second time in quick succession.
India will play England in their next pool match on Saturday, while Australia will be up against Germany.
Germany make winning start
Mats Grambusch and Christopher Ruhr struck a goal each as four-time Olympic champion Germany started their Hockey World League (HWL) Final campaign with a convincing 2-0 win over England.
After a slow opening 15 minutes, world no. 5 Germany got their act together and scored both their goals in the second quarter to register full points from the match in front of a capacity crowd at the Kalinga Stadium.
It was England who started on a promising note but the Germans took control of the game after the first quarter.
The Germans slowly and steadily got into their groove and scored the first goal of the tournament in the 19th minute through Grambusch who slotted home a Niklas Bruns assist from inside the circle past skipper George Pinner in front of the England goal.
In the 25th minute, the Germans doubled their lead through another field strike from Ruhr to go into halftime with a comfortable lead.