Ipoh [Malaysia]: Australia put India out of contention for a place in the final as they beat the Sardar Singh-led squad 4-2 in their third league match here at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018 on Tuesday.
Late goals from Ramandeep Singh (52′, 53′) were mere consolations as strikes from Captain Mark Knowles (28′), Aran Zalewski (35′), Daniel Beale (38′) and Blake Govers (40′) ensured that table-toppers Australia remained unbeaten.
It was a do-or-die match for India and their intent was evident right from the start as they attacked the Australian circle constantly. With better ball possession in the first quarter, India created three potential chances to score but they did not materialise.
Australia were let off the hooks when a pass from Ramandeep Singh to Shilanand Lakra could not make its way past Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter in the 8th minute, with the rebound blasted wide of the goal by Sumit Kumar.
The Indian defence remained resolute in the first quarter as they kept the World Champions from making forays into the Indian circle.
After an infringement by India in the 28th minute, Australia were awarded a penalty stroke and their skipper Mark Knowles made no mistake as he sent the ball past Krishan Pathak, handing Australia the lead.
With seconds left before halftime, India won the first penalty corner of the match but were unlucky as young drag-flicker Varun Kumar’s shot rebounded off the crossbar ending the first half with the scoreline favouring Australia.
A superb pass by Tom Craig at the baseline was picked up by Aran Zalewski, his diving effort ensured the ball went past Suraj Karkera fetching the Australians a 2-0 lead in the 35th minute. Australians built on their lead and dominated the proceedings, winning a penalty corner, although it could not be converted.
The third goal came soon after when Daniel Beale scored a splendid field goal in the 38th minute.
Blake Govers later converted a penalty corner to give the Aussies an unassailable 4-0 lead as he brilliantly dispatched a rebound that came off Suraj Karkera’s pads following a good save.
The final quarter saw India vie for a great comeback with Ramandeep Singh scoring two back-to-back goals in the 52nd and 53rd minutes. The late surge boosted the team’s attack, as they won a PC in the dying minutes of the match, although a miss trapping ended their campaign to reach the final, with a second defeat of the tournament.
On March 7, India will take on hosts Malaysia in their fourth match at 18.05 hours IST.(ANI)