India suffered a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of world champions Australia to settle for a silver medal, their best finish in six years, in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Saturday.
This was Australia’s ninth title win as they continued their stranglehold over the tournament. India last won the tournament in 2010, their fifth title, when they were jointly declared winners with South Korea. In 2012 and 2015 they were the bronze medallists.
Thomas Craig and Matt Ghodes scored two goals each in open field play for Australia to overwhelm India after a stout defence in the first quarter had denied the world’s top-ranked team a good shot at the Indian citadel.
Australia took off though Craig’s field goals in the 25th and 35th minutes, but the Indians seemed to be tiring when Ghodes scored struck twice in the 43rd and 57th minutes.
Australia, who won all their seven matches in style, had thumped India 5-1 in the round-robin league encounter.
Australia’s triumph earned them their ninth title in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. For India, this was the second time they finished with the silver medal in seven final appearances.
Playing to a plan at the beginning, India managed to keep the Australians away from their citadel in the first quarter and even managed to break into the rival circle on two occasions. Australia forced one penalty corner that was fired wide of the mark by Jeremy Hayward.
At the other end, a cross from Chinglensana Singh on the right was deflected wide off the mark by Chandana Thimmaiah.
Frustrated for 25 minutes, Australia broke the deadlock when Craig picked up a diagonal ball in the goalmouth and moved sidewards before slamming the ball into the boards.
Australia earned another penalty corner before Indian striker Ramandeep Singh featured in the last move before half-time. Ramandeep’s shy from the top of the circle in a crowded scoring zone was easily deflected out.
Thimmaiah had another shot at the goal from close range in the first minute of the second half, but sent the feeble push straight to goalkeeper Andrew Charter.
India were awarded their first penalty corner in the 32nd minute when striker SV Sunil was obstructed on top of the circle, but Harmanpreet Singh’s shot posed little threat as the custodian blocked it with his pads.
Craig increased Australia’s lead with an outstanding goal in the 35th minute when he dived to deflect a cross from Blake Govers into the right corner of the goal.
India came close to pulling a goal back in the 40th minute during a goalmouth scrimmage, but Chris Ciriello pulled the ball pack from the goalline after it had gone past the goalkeeper.
This was followed by two two successive penalty corners for India, but Rupinder Pal Singh was not able to shoot past Charter, the Australian custodian.
Ghodes put the game out of India’s reach by scoring the third Australian goal in a goalmouth melee in the 43rd minute when goalkeeper Akash Chikte palmed a ball from the left, but it deflected to Ghodes.
Mandeep Singh could have entered his name in the scoresheet, but his try off Talwinder Singh’s pass went wide of the right post.
Last year’s champions New Zealand claimed the bronze medal by overcoming the challenge from hosts Malaysia 5-4 in the penalty shootout after the two teams were tied 3-3 in regulation period.
It was a 59th-minute equaliser that revived New Zealand, who had trailed from the seventh minute when Ramadan Rosli scored a field goal.
Fitri Saari increased the lead with another open play strike in the 11th minute. The Black Sticks pulled a goal back in opne field play three minutes before half-time when Hayden Phillips found the target.
New Zealand drew 2-2 parity in the 43rd minute on kane Russell’s penalty corner conversion, but Shahril Saabah’s flash strike against put Malaysia ahead within a minute.
Malaysia enjoyed the lead until the 59th minute, but going all out to score another goal allowed New Zealand a counter-attack that resulted in a penalty corner.
Russell scored his second penalty corner goal by sending the ball into the net in the penultimate minute, shattering the hopes of the home side.
In the penalty shootout Australia converted all the attempts, while Fitri Saari faltered with the last try for Malaysia.
Earlier, Pakistan prevailed 3-1 over Canada, repeating the score-line of their round-robin league encounter on the opneing day, to take the fifth spot.
Final placings: Australia 1, India 2, New Zealand 3, Malaysia 4, Pakistan 5, Canada 6, Japan 7.