India fail to clear Aussie hurdle

Men from Down Under hand off-colour hosts a 5-2 mauling in a Pool B fixture

India fail to clear Aussie hurdle

Australia’s Glenn Turner (second from left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring a goal against India in their hockey World Cup match at New Delhi on Tuesday. Australia won the match 5-2.  Reuters

The euphoria of the win against Pakistan evaporated in double quick time at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium as the Australians flexed their muscles in ruthless fashion. The result was a 2-5 mauling, much to the delight of Australian coach Ric Charlesworth, who had a bitter exit as India’s technical advisor two years ago.

Beaten by England in the first match, the Australians were under pressure in the Pool B clash but they dealt with it in a forthright manner, taking the game by the scruff of neck right at the start and never relaxing.

India did expect such an Aussie response but they were not prepared to handle it. The speed of attacks caught them napping and the quick interchange of passes had them totally flummoxed. Two goals from Glenn Turner and one strike apiece from Liam de Young, Desmond Abbot and Like Doerner scripted India’s downfall while the hosts’ goals came from Vikram Pillay and Rajpal Singh.

 For India to have any chance of success against the Aussies, a tight defence was a must but they were a step or two slower to react on the day and it was asking for trouble against such an opponent, who swept into lead in the very second minute.

  Dhananjay Mahadik, who had such a good game against Pakistan, erred early and the Aussies pounced. Liam de Young, gaining possession inside the circle, slammed the ball goalward but it found the crosspiece. The Indians couldn’t clear it away and Young slammed in the rebound past Adrian D’Souza in the Indian goal.

 Before Indians could settle down, the Aussies struck again, this time in the eighth minute. Winning a referral for a penalty corner, Turner found the right deflection to beat D’Souza again. India did try to attack through Rajpal and Prabhjot Singh but the Aussie defence didn’t allow much leeway. In contrast, there was much room for the Aussies to exploit in the Indian defence and a quicksilver move between Young and Robert Hammond resulted in Abbott net the third goal.

The huge crowd tried to raise the Indian spirits and they saw a glimmer of hope when Pillay pulled one back at the stroke of half-time. Arjun Halappa initiated the move, putting Gurbaj in possession on the right. Gurbaj’s sizzling cross found an unmarked Pillay, who had the time to trap and fire it in past Nathan Burgers. A good start to the second half was essential for India to salvage something from the game but the Aussies denied them that opportunity, striking two more times. Like Doerner’s hit off the fourth Australian penalty corner should have been stopped on the goalline, but it wasn’t, making it 4-1 in the 42nd minute.

 It was all over bar the shouting when Turner’s cracking shot beat D’Souza again, a minute later. Well and truly outplayed, India got into the scorebook once again when Halappa created a chance on the right for Rajpal to tap in in the 53rd minute.  The Aussies then protected their lead and could have gone up 6-1 after they were awarded a penalty stroke in the 65th minute. Dwyer’s push was, however, saved by D’Souza, falling to his right.

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