It was the toughest 70 minutes of play for the team in this competition so far. And I am glad we managed to draw against Australia. I would say it was a fair result.
The Australians did manage a lot more attacks and created more chances. They were very aggressive, as usual, and managed to create a lot of space. They came hard at us and there was none of the sloppiness we saw against Malaysia.
I had said before the tie against Australia — the world and Olympic champions — that the most important thing against them would be to remain focussed and concentrated for the entire 70 minutes. Unfortunately, for the first 10-15 minutes, there was complete lack of focus and concentration on our part; there was no hard running and the marking was poor. As captain, I must take the blame for that. We are fortunate the Australians did not manage to score in that period.
What a break
The break gave us time not only to regroup but also to refocus. The difference in our game was evident after that.
There were chances and we came close to scoring more than once.
I am glad we could absorb the pressure till the end of the match and prevent Australia from scoring again. Our defence has been a concern but today it stood out.
The youngsters in the team had perhaps the most stringent test of their careers. Most of them are not used to playing at this pace or level and against Australia, though they appeared a little clueless, I am proud they did not lose their nerves.
But the standout feature was the umpiring. Indians are said to always crib about decisions but I will not do that today. I don't need to, because whatever happened on the field was there for all to see.
I must make a special mention of our goalkeeper, Adrian D'Souza, here. If not for him, the pressure on us would have been much more. He is very experienced and he proved today why he is considered world class.
I had said that it would not be an easy game for either side; the team that wins will have to earn it. I am happy the draw has proved me right.