Rupinder Pal Singh put in a valiant effort with a brace. However, his efforts weren’t enough the Indian men’s hockey team lost a tense opening game of the Four Nations Invitational Tournament at Melbourne on Wednesday. The 2-3 loss, incidentally, came against hosts, Australia.
Incidentally, India came into the tournament, having recently won the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia. The visitors began positively against their top-ranked opponents. India displayed positive intent and energy in the first quarter. However, the first 15 minutes failed to resolve the stalemate.
Indian youngster Affan Yousuf’s attacking approach would have paid dividends early on had it not been for solid defending from the Kookaburras.
India managed to gain three successive penalty corners in the second quarter of the match. After missing first two opportunities, Rupinder did not disappoint the third time. His powerful and precise drag flick went past Australian goalkeeper Tristan Clemons to give India a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.
Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived as Jeremy Hayward scored the equaliser for Australia three minutes later. The Australian too made use of his drag flicking skills to beat Akash Chikte in front of the Indian goal.
At halftime, the game was evenly poised at 1-1.
However, the game started slipping from India’s hands in the third quarter. Australia managed to score two more goals to surge ahead 3-1.
Hayward scored a second penalty corner goal in the 36th minute. This was followed by Trent Mitton scoring his team’s third goal, off a difficult angle in the 43rd minute.
However, India were not ready to give up without a fight. Talwinder Singh launched a superb counter-attacking approach only to be denied by the Australian defence. Chikte then kept India in the game with an amazing save off a powerful hit from Dylan Wotherspoon.
Rupinder finally managed to get one past the stubborn hosts via another penalty corner conversion in the 53rd minute. However, India were unable to capitalize off the momentum, as Australia did enough to deny their opponents any further opportunities.
India will next play Malaysia on Thursday.