India’s 5-0 Australia hockey Test series rout and lessons from it | Hockey - Hindustan Times

India’s 5-0 Australia hockey Test series rout and lessons from it

Apr 13, 2024 11:55 PM IST

Fulton’s side lost the final game too in Perth, leaving India with much work to do as they prepare for the Paris Olympics

Harmanpreet Singh and Co turned up with renewed vigour at the Perth Hockey Stadium on Saturday, going on the offensive and imposing the high press against Australia. Like in the previous two games, India took the lead, this time through their skipper in the fourth minute.

India lost the five-match hockey Test series to Australia 5-0(Hockey India)
India lost the five-match hockey Test series to Australia 5-0(Hockey India)

But it was the same story all over again as India were handed a fifth consecutive defeat as Australia completed a 5-0 rout in the bilateral hockey test series. Boby Singh Dhami (53rd) scored India’s other goal while the Kookaburras scored via Jeremy Hayward (20th), Ky Willott (38th) and Tim Brand (39th) to be 3-1.

Now catch your favourite game on Crickit. Anytime Anywhere. Find out how

Australia have always been the bogey team for India, against whom they have had a psychological block as well, more than any other team. While India chief coach Craig Fulton wanted to take them head on, the men in canary yellow reinforced their dominance, hammering 17 goals to India’s seven in the five games.

The positives first. One good outcome of the series was the maturity and agility displayed by India’s goalkeepers, especially veteran PR Sreejesh. The former skipper was in great form throughout to thwart several Aussie attacks, including penalty corners (PC). Krishan Bahadur Pathak was also in top form, making multiple flying saves. Both were under constant pressure from Australia and without them, the hosts would have scored many more.

India’s drag-flickers also delivered in Perth with two-time FIH Player of the Year Harmanpreet scoring three goals. The powerful Jugraj Singh also stepped up when the team opted to go for the second battery.

Perhaps the most disappointing was India’s defence which was too deep, allowing Australia to earn more PCs. “We need to take it up a little higher. If you go too deep, the possibility of conceding PCs against a world class team like Australia who take the ball so quickly, the chances of errors in D are that much higher,” former India skipper Viren Rasquinha said.

Seniors like Harmanpreet, Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh should be taking decisions under pressure and communicating, to help the defenders push higher up, and they in turn can push the midfield, releasing the pressure.

Australia have always been a super tough opponent by the ferocity and pace at which they play. This kind of intensity till the end is not something India encounter regularly, and never in training.

The defence also needed to maintain calm, especially when India had the lead, and possession. That was the time to put the opposition under pressure. “We were struggling to hold

more than four passes at any point. Also, we were playing with a 27-member squad. So, in every match the combination was changing as Fulton was trying out players to make the Olympic squad; that also had an impact on the results,” Rasquinha said.

The strikers too did not exert full press while India led, struggling against the pace and tempo Australia maintained. When Australia won the turnover, they attacked rapidly and threw 5-6 forwards up front, which India could never replicate in any of the games.

The question is whether the 0-5 rout will mentally impact India, who will face Australia again at the Paris Olympics on August 2. Crucially, it will be the last group match for the teams, and it could well determine qualification for the quarter-finals.

“They only have to win one game against Australia this year and they will be happy. If they were not used to losing to Australia then mentally it would have had a big impact. But

Australia have always had their dominance for a long time over India," said Shane McLeod, who coached Belgium to gold at the 2018 World Cup, 2019 European Championships and the 2021 Tokyo Games. McLeod was also Fulton’s boss during his stint with Belgium.

“So, it is nothing new. Everyone will very quickly forget this series if at the Olympics, India gets a win over Australia. Then the exercise they have gone through is very successful.

You don’t win any medal for winning a Test series against a team playing at home. It's the game of consequence that they really should be judged on,” McLeod said from Antwerp.

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Quizzes, Polls & much moreExplore now!
Share this article
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On