A Kookaburrian Delight
Outpaced, Outplayed, Outclassed is what Australia did to India in their pool B encounter. The Major Dyan chand National stadium was full of tri colors, the crowd was at its euphoric best after a scintillating 4-1 drubbing by India to their Archrivals, Pakistan. A win here would strengthen India chances of a semifinal berth. On the other hand World number 2 Australia after a disappointing lose to England in the opener desperately needed a win.
The pre Match hush was centered around Sandeep Singh and Jamie Dwyer. Sandeep Singh was transformed as the Cardinal of the Indian team and whenever Australian team was mentioned, Jamie Dwyer was the only name that emerged out. But what transpired out on that 200 x 85 ft Astro turf, might have shocked a few and some would have expected it.
Australia were aiming for retribution and when Liam De young struck a 2nd minute goal past Adrian De Souza, kookaburras had their game plan cut out perfectly. Glenn turner netted the ball through a penalty stroke in the 10th minute to make it 2-0.The Indian defence of Sandeep Singh, Diwakar Ram and Dhanajay Mahadik were left wide open and the Australian midfielders Rob Hammond and Simon Orchard penetrated the inner circle repeatedly and were rewarded with a 3rd strike courtesy Desmond Abbot. The Indians were no match to the pace at which the Australians were playing. The FIH player of the year Jamie Dwyer was just a shadow of himself in the first half, yet Australia looked so potent and accurate.
Amidst this Australian dominance Arjun halappa tried to infuse some vigor into the Indian attack with some trademark ball controlling and dodging. The absence of specialist center forward Shivendra Singh meant that the onus was on the wingers Prabjot Singh and Skipper Rajpal Singh to carry forward offensive unit. But here also the kookaburras prevailed through excellent man marking by Mathew Butterini and Mark Knowles which reduced both the talented wingers as standees.
The match was slipping out of India’s hand as Luke Doerner and Glenn Turner added a 4th and 5th goal within 1 minute as against India’s solitary goal by Vikram pillay. Australia conceded 2 penalty corners and India failed to convert both ,though the second penalty corner resulted in a super rally dodging by Arjun Halappa past 4 defenders at a time to create a scoring chance for skipper Rajpal Singh to which he duly obliged. The score ,5-2, and it remained unchanged till the end of the game. Versatile Midfielder Rob Hammond was adjudged the Man of the match for his incredible all round play as he not only pushed the Indian defense to the brink up front but also proved to be a handy defender.
The game pretty much summed up the caliber of both the teams in the context of this world cup. The fast paced Australians with solid defense and good all round players are definitely the frontrunners for the coveted title and on the other hand India with loads of skills needs to find the team work to stay alive in the competition.