The Indian men’s hockey team were blanked 0-4 by world no.2 Australia in the four match of the tour Down Under with Blake Govers and Jeremy Hayward scoring a brace each for the hosts, on Wednesday.
After remaining unbeaten in their first three matches of the tour, world no.5 India were handed a lesson in hockey by the Kookaburras with Govers (15th, 60th minutes) and Hayward (20th, 59th) finding the net twice each.
India started the match well as they pressed Australia higher up the field, but were dealt two successive blows in five minutes.
The visitors had earlier earned themselves an early penalty corner in the fifth minute, but Harmanpreet Singh’s shot was successfully blocked by the first rusher.
In the 12th minute, Harmanpreet was in action again as he played one-two with Nilakanta Sharma on the right flank, who played in a well-calculated through-ball back to the defender, but he failed to reach the ball quickly enough.
Seconds from the first quarter Australia secured their first penalty corner, which resulted in a penalty stroke for the hosts and Govers made no mistake from the set-piece.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Australia earned back-to-back penalty corners and from the second chance Hayward beautifully flicked the ball low into the right side of goal past India goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak to double their lead. But three minutes later, Pathak came to India’s rescue to deny Australia from another penalty corner opportunity.
Aaron Kleinschmidt then missed a great chance for Australia in the 25th minute as he found himself unmarked inside the box, but shot just wide of the post.
Struggling to keep the possession, India won their fifth penalty corner through Sumit Kumar, but Australian goalkeeper Johan Durst made a brilliant double-save to deny Harmanpreet.
Australia’s fifth penalty corner in the last minute of the second quarter saw Trent Mitton’s shot forcing a great save from Pathak on his right, which meant Australia took their two-goal advantage into the half-time break.
The third quarter, however, witnessed a close battle between both the teams but Australia defended stoutly to keep Indian strikers at bay.
India started the last quarter well and it was captain Manpreet Singh who created the first chance as he ran into the striking circle and shot at goal, but Australia’s Durst made a diving stop on his left side to deny the visitors.
India secured another penalty corner in the 51st minute but Harmanpreet’s effort was once again saved by the Australian custodian.
Desperately in search of goals, India withdrew their goalkeeper for an extra outfield player but the move backfired as Australia scored two goals in the last two minutes.
Australia’s third goal came off a penalty corner conversion by Hayward before Govers scored through a fierce reverse shot to round off a disappointing day for the Indians.
India will again play Australia on Friday in their fifth and last match of the tour.