Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

Hockey: India record first win over Australia in regulation time after six years, survive late drama to stay alive in test series Down Under

Akashdeep Singh scores winner with 54 seconds left to play as India beat Australia for the first time after November 29, 2016; Australia coach lashes out at goalkeeper Sreejesh for 'vicious' tackle

The last time India beat Australia outrightly in regulation time, as per International Hockey Federation's data, was on November 29, 2016 - a 3-2 win in a test . (Source : Hockey India/ Twitter )

After a run of 12 defeats in last 14 matches and conceding 26 goals in previous four encounters including allowing seven in three of those games, India finally ended their embarrassing “six-year winless streak against Australia on Wednesday.

The last time India beat Australia outrightly in regulation time, as per International Hockey Federation’s data, was on November 29, 2016 – a 3-2 win in a test match in Australia. And they ended the barren run in style on Wednesday, as the match witnessed late drama as three goals were scored in the last three minutes, with India having the last laugh.

The Tokyo Olympics bronze medalists defeated the silver winners 4-3 in a fierce game, with forward Akashdeep Singh scoring the winner with just 54 seconds left to play. Akashdeep’s goal came after it seemed like Australia, who had scored just seconds before, would escape with a draw after Samsher Singh had given India a 3-2 lead in the 57th minute.

However, India reacted strongly and with a minute remaining in the match Hardik showed incredible vision with his defense-splitting long pass to find Mandeep Singh on the top of the ‘D’. Mandeep played it in the direction of Akashdeep, who coolly put it past the Australian goalkeeper and ensured that India stayed alive in the five-match series, in which they trail 1-2.

The match, though, wasn’t without controversy. After the full time, both teams returned to the pitch to practice shootouts with an eye on the World Cup in January. In one of the attempts India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, while trying to make a save, injured Australia’s attacker Ky Willot.

Australia coach Colin Batch was livid post-match and asked for FIH’s intervention. “It’s a vicious act,” Batch said. “And, you know, the FIH and the regulations need to do something about when a player deliberately takes someone out and injures them.”

In the regulation time, Sreejesh showed glimpses of his old self by pulling off miraculous saves, including a triple save in the second quarter to keep Australia at bay. He was helped, initially at least, by the defenders who didn’t stray out of position and made it tough for the Australians to find space.

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It looked for a moment that all the defensive hard work would count for nothing when Australia snuck in a goal late in the match to make it 3-3. But Akashdeep’s goal ensured a morale-boosting win for India. The last two matches of the series will be played over the weekend.

First published on: 30-11-2022 at 16:20 IST
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