Akashdeep Singh’s hat-trick also went in vain as the Indian men’s hockey team conceded two last-minute goals to go down 4-5 against Australia in the first high-scoring Test of the five-match series, here on Saturday. Akashdeep Singh (10th, 27th and 59th minutes) scored three goals while captain Harmanpreet Singh (31st minute) converted a penalty corner. Lachlan Sharp (5th), Nathan Ifroms (21st), Tom Craig (41st) and Blake Govers (57th and 60th) scored for Australia.
Gowers scored twice from penalty corners towards the end of the match. Indian head coach Graham Reid was disappointed with his team’s performance in the closing stages of the match. Reid said, “The end of the match was very disappointing whereas before that it was probably a very good performance. We were disappointing at certain stages, especially in the two quarters but I think we came back pretty well but unfortunately we gave away the lead (to Australia) again at the end. We just have to get better at it. “He said,” Now the challenge is to perform well together. One of the objectives of this tour is to create consistency and that will be the challenge for us tomorrow. ,
The second match of the series will be played on Sunday. Australia started brightly and took the lead in the fifth minute when Sharp fired past Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh at the very first attempt. The Indian team responded quickly, with Amit Rohidas making a brilliant move down the left but the ball was stopped inside the circle by the Australian defence. Akashdeep then equalized for India in the 11th minute when Hardik Singh created a brilliant chance for him.
Six minutes into the second quarter, Australia regained their lead thanks to poor Indian defence. The Indian defenders failed to intercept a cross and Ifroms deftly deflected it into the net. Akashdeep then came to India’s rescue and leveled the score at 2-2 in the 27th minute with a sharp reverse hit. Australia were awarded a penalty corner just before half-time but India’s second goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak was alert enough to avoid the danger.
A minute after the change of ends, Harmanpreet scored from a penalty corner to put India ahead for the first time in the match. The Indians earned successive penalty corners but the team wasted both the chances. In the 41st minute of the match, Australia earned another penalty corner which Craig scored off the rebound while Sreejesh saved the first drag flick. The home team continued to dominate and earned a few penalty corners but could not convert them.
India looked sloppy in the last five minutes of the match, with Germanpreet Singh getting an unnecessary green card and missing a man from the team. Australia made full use of the opportunity and earned another penalty corner which Govers fired home with a powerful flick. But Akashdeep scored a goal a minute before the whistle to make the score 4-4. But poor defending inside their own circle cost the Indians dearly as Australia earned two more penalty corners. Of this, Gowers scored on the second try to give his team a 1–0 lead in the series.