India vs Australia hockey series: Despite a long lead, India concede late goals in loss to Australia
- After leading 1-0 for three quarters, India gave up two late goals as they lost to the world champs in the second match
The chronic illness of Indian hockey – conceding late goals, is still thriving, as seen in the second match of the three-test series against Australia. After leading the world champions 1-0 for three quarters of the game, the Indians gave up two goals in as many minutes in the last quarter to end up losing.
Australia were on their guard right from the get-go this time, keenly aware of the Indians’ tenacity and will. Both sides spent much of the first quarter attacking the other’s post, but could not find the back of the nets.
India’s moment came in the form of a penalty corner in the second quarter, which Devindar Walmiki deftly guided through the Aussie posts to put India ahead. The packed Rajnangaon International Hockey Stadium roared louder and louder as the Indians denied the number one-ranked side in the world an equalizer, right up to the third quarter.
But Australia showed why they are world champions, using their experience and keeping their cool. Jacob Whetton deflected a pass to put the Kookaburras on par with the Indians. A minute later, India impaled themselves on their own sword when a pass from Aran Zalewski glanced off a defender in blue to put Australia ahead.
Try as they did, the hosts were unable to pierce the Aussie defense and the pressure that accumulated showed. Two yellow cards were issued to the Indians, including one to the hero of the last match, VR Raghunath. Australia kept the rest of the Indian threats at bay until the final whistle and walked off as victors.
As much as we’d like this to be called a come-from-behind upset, the world champs didn't seem at all like they lost the plot despite being at a deficit for the majority of the game. That’s the famed Aussie grit.
India will have to win the last match, which is tomorrow evening. Disappointing as it is for fans, coach Roelant Oltmans has emphasized that all the matches and tournaments, regardless of outcome, are preparation for next year’s Olympics.