Indian hockey teams had a mixed day in the International Festival of Hockey that kicked-off in Melbourne on Wednesday. The women’s team got off to a superb start by beating Australia 1-0 with Rani scoring the winner. The men stumbled to a 2-3 defeat to the Kookaburras despite taking an early lead.
The women’s team is taking part in a three-test series with the Hockeyroos while the Indian men’s team is engaged in a four-nation tournament involving New Zealand and Malaysia.
In the men’s match, Rupinder Pal Singh converted two penalty corners in the 21st and 53rd minutes but Australia emerged winners with goals from Jeremy Hayward (24th and 36th) and Trent Mitton (43rd).
I ndia began positively and earned their first penalty corner in the second quarter, which ended in a straight save by Aussie goalkeeper Tristan Clemons before India were awarded another chance. Clemons saved the second shot and India were awarded yet another PC. This time the Rupinder Pal Singh shot went in.
However, the Kookaburras levelled scores within three minutes with Jeremy Hayward conerting a short corner of his own. Hayward scored again a minute after change of ends and Trent Mitton scored in the 43rd minute.
India, who won the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia, pressed hard in the final quarter to claw the game back, and their hard work paid off with Rupinder Pal converting a second penalty corner with just seven minutes left in the game.
India went searching for the equaliser but the Kookaburras held on for the remaining minutes of the match to take out their first game of the International Festival of Hockey.
Earlier, in the first match of the day, the Indian women took on the Hockeyroos and the first quarter one saw both teams pressing without any luck.
India were the first up on the board after Rani managed to score a penalty corner at the 21st minute of the match, leaving the Hockeyroos going into the half time break knowing they had some work to do.
The hosts tried a lot and created a number of chances buy the Indians thwarted them, ’keeper Rajani coming up with a number of good saves.
Hockeyroos interim head coach Jason Duff was disappointed with his team but praised the Indians for their tactics and the energy they showed on the field.
“They shifted the ball well, and they penetrated well, not that they had a lot of opportunity in the first half, but the game was gone because we didn’t move the ball well. They were first to the ball most of the time, and at this level if you let them get first to the ball then they’ll beat you.”
Earlier in the day, New Zealand and Malaysia played out a 1-1 draw.