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India win the hockey battle, but lose the war

Hockey India photo
Hockey India photo

India played an impressive game against Australia in the third and final hockey Test, but then faltered in the penalty shootout to hand the series to the visitors.

After drawing the first game and losing the second, India was faced with a must-win third game. They got off to a great start, too. VR Raghunath converted a penalty corner in the second quarter – his powerful drag-flick taking a deflection to leave the Aussie goalkeeper stranded.

Australia restored parity in the 36th minute. Trent Mitton capitalised on a blunder by Rupinder Pal Singh, powered through to the ‘D’ and beat goalie Harjot Singh.

However, Rupinder made up for his mistake a little more than five days later, successfully converting a penalty corner to score his 50th goal for India.

The see-saw game saw Australia making yet another comeback, with Mitton levelling the scores at 2-2.

There was to be a happy sting in the tail, though – Akashdeep Singh producing a blinder in the dying seconds to give India a well-deserved 3-2 win, as well as tying the series 1-1.

However, there ended the good news for India. In the penalty shootout, last-minute hero Akashdeep fluffed his lines, as did Sardar Singh and Raghunath. Australia scored three in the shooutout to take the series.

The series loss apart, India will take heart with their performance in the series. The closely fought games gave India much-needed match practice for the upcoming FIH World League Final.

“I am happy that we won today’s match,” said Indian coach Roelant Oltmans, “It is good for the team as we enter the Hero Hockey World League with a lot of confidence. We have a few days before the tournament starts and we intend to devote time addressing our grey areas.”

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