Australia Tour: Rusty defending sinks India as Graham Reid's boys crash to a 2-5 defeat
India's tour to Australia ended on a sour note as Graham Reid's charges crashed to a 2-5 defeat in the second Test after having lost the first by a 0-4 margin.
The two contests in Perth have been a far cry from the July evening in Breda last year when Sreejesh and co. had the Australians in all sorts of trouble.
While the Indians fought hard in the first Test, the second was one-way traffic all along, as the kookaburras had the Indian defence at sixes and sevens for large parts of the match.
The Aussies made 5 changes from the squad that went into the first test while the visitors made none. Colin Batch got Tyler Lovell back in goal alongside Johan Durst who had a brilliant match on Wednesday.
The hosts wasted no time whatsoever as they ventured deep into Indian territory, and Trent Mitton very nearly opened the scoring. Krishan Pathak flung his arms out in the nick of time to keep things level.
In spite of his heroics, the Indian goalkeeper failed to stop Flynn Ogilvie from finding the back of the net a few seconds later as the Indian defence was caught napping as early as the third minute.
Pathak was forced into action yet again as the kookaburras upped the ante while the Indians failed to stop Jaskaran's push and wasted their first PC.
Trent Mitton then tested Pathak who managed to keep the ball out of harm's way but conceded a PC. To make matters worse, Birendra Lakra was sent off but the Indians managed to keep the flick out with a runner short.
A dreadful defensive error by Vivek Sagar led to the second goal with Mitton beating the overworked Pathak but Nilakanta Sharma reduced the deficit just before the end of the first quarter.
Mitton scored the third after beating Sreejesh with some help from Josh Simmonds while Tim Brand made his way into the striking circle and earned a PC must to the dismay of the Indians who flailed their arms in disbelief, but Blake Govers beat Sreejesh to make it 4-1 just before half-time.
The Indian midfielders failed to feed the strikers in the third quarter, and the visitors seemed to be unable to string together enough passes to trouble the Aussie defence.
Armaan Qureshi was the livewire for the Indians but was unable to beat Durst who made a brilliant save just before Tim Brand got the last touch after a magnificent series of passes which led to Australia's fifth goal in the 43rd minute.
Anderson very nearly scored the sixth for Australia but the ball ricocheted off Sreejesh's shoulders - more by accident than design.
Rupinder Pal Singh reduced the deficit for the Indians with just over five minutes left on the clock but it was a case of too little too late for Graham Reid's boys, whose performance on the pitch failed to justify their world ranking.
The Indians who appeared to be getting under the skin of the Australians ever since the 2016 Champions Trophy final, seem to have turned the clock back a fair bit by going down to the hosts by big margins - much like the old times.
The visitors did appear a bit aggrieved following some questionable decisions which went against them but had themselves to blame for some poor passing, losing possession time and again at crucial moments in the game.
The defensive lapses, the lack of cohesion between the midfielders and men up front, and the apparent lack of sharpness in and around the shooting circle will be a cause for concern when the Indians touch down in Bhubaneswar in an attempt to make the final of the FIH Series Finals.