Junior Hockey World Cup: India defeat Australia in a thriller, set up final date against Belgium
The unbeaten Indian colts soared into the finals of the Junior Hockey World Cup after they defeated Australia 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out in a semi-final match that went down the wire after both teams scored two goals each at the end of 70 minutes.
The first half was in favour of the Australians, as they led the attacking charge, got the opening goal, ensured that the Indians failed to build up momentum by piling up defensive pressure in the fast-paced encounter. In the first ten minutes of the match, it was surprising to see the visitors dominate possession, making constant run-ins into the Indian half.
But, the defence was well in place for the Indians, a lot more composed to control the proceedings and executed effective man-to-man markings thus avoiding any lethal attacks in front of the goal. However, Australia won the first penalty corner of the match in the 13th minute and converted it after the initial miss. Hendry injected the ball, the first shot was saved but it was Tom Craig who stepped up for Australia and scored on the rebound to put the ball in the back of the net just inside the left post.
India exhibited true character and led a counter-attack soon after but it was to no avail, as the Indian midfield in the likes of Harjeet Singh and Mandeep Singh seemed to succumb to the Australian defence time and again. India’s first real chance came forth in the 22nd minute when Santa Singh drove the ball in from the right flank but the effort was in vain as the ball deflected off an Australian defender.
Riding high on confidence, the men from Down Under won two subsequent penalty corners in the 23rd minute but failed to convert any as the defence was on point and keeper Vikas Dahiya guarded his goal well, especially on the second attempt.
The 28th minute saw Mandeep winning a penalty corner for India, but the home team missed the opportunity and subsequently managed to win another one as well. The second time around, Harmanpreet’s shot was on aim but Australian keeper Ashley Thomas surged ahead to clear the ball out of danger, ensuring that the leveller still eluded the Indian team.
The 33rd minute saw, Ashley Thomas save yet another Indian attempt by sticking his left foot out in the knick of time. The very next minute, Simranjeet took a shot from in front of the goal but unfortunately it ran just wide of the post, as India went into the break trailing by one goal.
HALF TIME: Australia 1-0 India
The second half started with a show of cards, with the umpire flashing a Green Card for Tom Craig. Subsequently, the Australian team won a penalty corner in the 37th minute, but the strikers failed to trap it after Hendry injected it. Parvinder then led the counter-attack for India but failed to get in a pass for Armaan Qureshi inside the D.
The 43rd minute was when the Lucknow crowd erupted, as Gurjant Singh got India the equaliser, after making a superb run in and finishing it off with a reverse hit to hammer the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal. After the goal, the Indians seemed to play like a side possessed to get the second goal and they did so off a Mandeep Singh effort, a straight hit into the middle of the goal on a defensive lapse in the 48th minute.
The 53rd minute was when the relentless Australians won two successive penalty corners, but the Indian defence led by Vikas Dahiya ensured that the home team maintained their one goal lead. But it was not long before the visitors equalised with Sharp scoring in the 57th minute off a deflection to rest the scoreline at 2-2.
Lovett earned a penalty corner for Australia in the 64th minute, but Vikas Dahiya who had been all but completely impressive put in yet another save to prevent a goal. The final six minutes saw both teams trying to get the winner but failed to penetrate through the each other's defence thus leading the match to an inevitable shoot-out.
FULL TIME: Australia 2-2 India
Shoot-out: Australia 2-4 India
Australia and India both scored on their first attempts with Harjeet nailing it in for the home team. Vikas Dahiya was on song following that, clearing two successive Australian attempts while Harmanpreet and Sumit on the other end managed to score, putting India 3-1 in advantage.
Australia, however, managed to keep themselves alive with a successful attempt on the 4th shot but all was rendered hapless when Manpreet guided the ball into the goal on his turn and ensured that India stormed into the finals of the Junior Hockey World Cup.
Man of the Match: Vikas Dahiya
In the other semi-final clash, it was Belgium who surprised six-time winners and defending champions Germany 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out to progress ahead into the finals. Sunday then, will witness the all-important finale encounter between Belgium and the home team India, with both teams aiming for the ultimate glory, the Junior World Cup trophy.