India stun world champions Australia in Azlan Shah Cup
Young striker Nikkin Thimmaiah scored a hat-trick as India produced their best performance of the tournament to stun world champions and title holders Australia 4-2 on Saturday and secure a place in the third and fourth place play-off at the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.other Updated: Apr 16, 2015 13:26 IST
Young striker Nikkin Thimmaiah scored a hat-trick as India produced their best performance of the tournament to stun world champions and title holders Australia 4-2 on Saturday and secure a place in the third and fourth place play-off at the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.
Already out of title race, India played without pressure and at last came up with a complete performance that had Australia on the backfoot for most part of the match.
The win gave also gave India's new chief coach Paul van Ass his best moment of a short career with the team.
India scored a goal each in all the four quarters through VR Raghunath (1st minute), Nikkin (23rd, 32nd, 60th), while Australia's goals came from the sticks of Daniel Beale (14th) and Matt Gohdes (53rd).
By virtue of this win, India finished their league engagements with seven points from five game and will now face Korea in the third-fourth place classification match on Sunday.
The Kookaburras struggled for ball possession throughout the match and their defence crumbled when put under pressure by the Indian forwards. Barring the two soft goals which they conceded, there was no blemish in India's performance.
After four games, the Indians at last showed class and made a promising start to the match against a side which is way above in current world hockey.
India were by far the better side on display, as they dominated the proceedings against all expectations.
The Indians were off to a great start as they went on the offensive from the start and in the process earned two penalty corners in succession with the very first move of the match and Raghunath converted the second set piece with a booming flick to give the side an early lead.
The Indians continued in the same vein and had another great chance in the 10th minute which was wasted by Satbir Singh, who scooped over with only the approaching Australian goalkeeper Tristan Clemons to beat.
The win shows we can play hockey: Van Ass
The 4-2 win over world champions Australia was India's new chief coach Paul van Ass' first big win since taking over charge a month back and he said the result showed the world that the Sardar Singh-led side "can play hockey".
Van Ass was in no mood to get overboard with this win but said what he liked about his wards performance against the Australians was their fighting spirit.
"Let's not make big analysis out of this win. The energy was good and I liked that. We can play hockey we showed that," the Dutchman told PTI when asked whether he considered this win as his best result with the team.
"Yeah, of course at last it was a complete performance. We had a win against the No.1 side in the world, which is always nice. So, it is a big compliment for the boys. They fought from first minute till the 60th minute. I liked it, I liked the intensity," Van Ass said after snapping defending champion Australia's winning run in the tournament.
"Today we just played a good game. We controlled the game well, we scored goals what more can you want.
"I still do think the first two matches we played really well. The only poor game was against Malaysia, especially the first two quarters. There we lost it," Van Ass said, analysing India's performance so far in this tournament.
"I think we should have got more points from our first two matches."
First Published: Apr 11, 2015 18:48 IST