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India edge past Australia in first of two-match hockey rubber

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Victoria, Nov 29 (IANS) A brace from striker Affan Yousuf and a goal from captain V.R. Raghunath helped India edge past Australia 3-2 to open their two-match hockey series here on Tuesday.

The two teams had previously met in a pulsating encounter at the Four Nations Invitational Tournament and there was no drop in quality even in the series opener here.

India started the better side, holding the ball and controlling the midfield. Despite several circle penetrations, the game remained goalless going into the first break.

Yousuf opened the scoring for India in the 19th minute, with a wonderfully constructed field goal and then doubled his tally and the lead, with another in the same minute as India went into halftime firmly in control and in the lead.

The second half had a completely different look as India looked happy to sit back, and take Australia on the counter.

Australia on the other hand were incisive and precise, and drew themselves level via goals from Matthew Willis (36th minute) and Trent Mitton (43rd minute).

Within a minute of the equaliser though, India won a penalty corner, and from the subsequent attempt, Raghunath made no mistake to put his team back in the lead.

The two teams went at each other in the final quarter, India cautious but not too defensive so as to risk an equaliser. The visitors held on for the victory and took a 1-0 lead in the series.

--IANS

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