It was a festival of goals during the second and final match of the hockey series between Australia and India in Victoria on Wednesday. Seven goals were scored with Australia edging out India 4-3 in a pulsating match that saw both sides display attacking and free-flowing hockey.
India skipper VR Raghunath scored twice in the match, both penalty corner conversions, while Akashdeep Singh scored the opening goal for the visitors. Australia scored through Trent Mitton, Jake Whetton while Jeremy Hayward scored twice from penalty corners to earn the hosts the series-levelling victory.
With the result, Australia, the world champions, tied the two-match series 1-1. India had won the opening match 3-2 thanks to a brace by young striker Affan Yousuf on Tuesday.
- India skipper VR Raghunath scored twice from penalty corners.
- Akashdeep Singh opened scoring for India.
- Jeremy Hayward converted two penalty corners for Australia.
- Trent Mitton and Jake Whetton were the other goal scorers for the hosts.
Though ending up on the losing side, India can take a lot of positive from Wednesday’s loss as they had played with 10 men for large periods of the third quarter. India defended stoutly during the period.
Like in the first match, it was India who were the quickest off the block. Akashdeep opened scoring for India in the sixth minute. Australia settled into their rhythm and equalised towards the end of the first quarter through Mitton.
The action quickened in the second quarter with both sides playing attacking hockey—the shift in tactics and momentum were a treat for spectators.
Drag-flick specialist VR Raghunath gave India the lead again in the second quarter off a superbly executed penalty corner in the 22nd minute. Australia equalised through a penalty of their own a minute later, converted by Jake Whetton.
India earned a penalty corner again towards the end of the quarter and skipper Raghunath converted it with a brilliant drag-flick. India went into the half-time break with the 3-2 lead.
Australia came out with all guns blazing in the thrid quarter which turned out to be an ill-tempered on that saw four yellow cards, three to Indian players.
Australia wrested back the control, scoring an equaliser via a Jeremy Hayward penalty corner in the 38th minute. India were down by a player for long passages in the quarter, and were even down to nine on the field for a while when Nikkin Thimmaiah and Pardeep Mor were serving yellow-card suspensions.
The teams went into the final quarter level at 3-3. Australia looked the stronger team in the final period, and pressed the play constantly, helped of course by the fact that they had a man advantage.
Their continuous press paid dividend in the 54th minute Hayward scored his second off a penalty corner to give them the lead. India looked to make some inroads into the Australian defence and force an equaliser but the home side held on for a series levelling victory.