A late goal from an aggressive Australian attack halted India’s charge at a stunning upset in the invitational Four Nations Tournament at Darwin, today.
With a 4-1 loss to New Zealand and a 1-1 draw in the previous game with the Japanese, the Blueskirts took the field for the third time at this venue in their bid to find their maiden victory against the home side. It is common knowledge that in recent times, this team has struggled with form and fared quite poorly in the international arena. Therefore, today’s clash between the 13th placed Indian side and the Hockeyroos who are ranked 3rd in the FIH rankings, albeit a preparatory outing before Rio Olympics, was always poised to be a steep ask for the former.
The signs were ominous in the first quarter as the Australians started on a high with Grace Stewart opening the scoring in the 9th minute itself. However, hungry for a positive result in this encounter, the Indian team had other ideas which soon became evident from their exhilarating on-field display.
Almost immediately, Lilima Minz equalized for India in the 12th minute to make it all square going into the first timeout. In the ensuing two quarters, one in each half of the game, the Indian defence stood tall not to let the opponents find enough space to manage a second goal.
Defender Deep Grace Ekka’s 100th appearance in national colours would’ve been commemorated in perfect fashion had forward Sunita Lakra’s valiant efforts in the final third culminated in a decisive finish in the final fifteen minutes of play. As the two sides continued to exchange blows, Emily Smith’s deft deflection found the back of the net with five minutes remaining on the clock to deny India a share of the points on offer.
Notwithstanding the outcome, today’s has been a commendable performance by the Indian eves, with skipper Sushila Chanu leading from the front and a resilient Savita successfully guarding the woodwork, assisted by the defenders amidst long stretches of Australian onslaughts to see the final score 2-1 to the home team.Published 03 Jun 2016, 17:41 IST