India men produced a near-perfect shoot-out performance
to steal a bonus point in Match 2 of their double-header against Australia, with the hosts emerging 3-1 winners in the one-on-ones after regular time finished 2-2 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The result leaves the two teams locked together on ten points, with third-placed Australia ahead in of fourth-placed India in the standings by virtue of a superior goal difference.
Australia – deserving 4-3 winners against India in Match 1 on Friday (21 February) – opened the scoring midway through the second quarter thanks to Trent Mitton’s powerful slap-shot that somehow squeezed between India goalkeeper Krishan Pathak and his near post. However, the home favourites turned the match on its head with two penalty corner goals in three minutes, with Rupinder Singh and Harmanpreet Singh putting India 2-1 up at half time before Australia’s Aran Zalewski levelled matters early in the fourth quarter.
The shoot-out was dominated by India, with Harmanpreet Singh, Vivek Prasad and Lalit Upadhyay all scoring and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh conceding just once as the host nation claimed two points from a possible three. With ten unconverted penalty corners, two disallowed goals and a missed penalty stroke, Australia will feel that they had every opportunity to secure all three points. However, it was a greatly improved performance from India, who certainly deserved a share of the spoils.
“I think our guys did a really good job”, said India defender Harmanpreet Singh, who was named Player of the Match. “In yesterday’s match we made lots of mistakes, but we had a meeting to decide what we would do in the next match and how we could improve ourselves, and today we did good.”
Australia captain Eddie Ockenden said: “It’s always exciting being here, and I think we are very lucky to be able to come to India and play in this kind of stadium with these kinds of fans. India are always a great opponent. We are trying to learn a lot about ourselves, and these two games have been very beneficial for us. Playing two games against quality opposition also makes us a lot better.”
The FIH Hockey Pro League continues next weekend when New Zealand’s men and women entertain the national teams of Argentina in Christchurch. To see the complete match schedule, click here.
FIH Hockey Pro League
Saturday 22 February 2020 – Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)
Men’s result: India 2 Australia 2 – India win 3-1 after Shoot-Out (Match 2 of 2)
Player of the Match: Harmanpreet Singh (IND)
Umpires: Coen van Bunge (NED), Rawi Anbananthan (MAS) & Simon Taylor (NZL – video)