Hockey World League: Australia beat India 6-2
Antwerp (Belgium): India were run over by Australia, who were at their destructive best, playing some incredibly fast hockey and making good use of their penalty corners.
India coach Paul van Ass with his team in Antwerp, Belgium
Indians, left struggling on the ropes, lost 2-6 as Australia delivered one punch after another. But for some amazing goalkeeping by PR Sreejesh, Australia's margin may well have been in double figures. It was Sreejesh's busiest day yet in Antwerp as time and again, he stood between the Australians and another goal. But even that failed to stop the marauding Aussies.
"We got caught in the higher rhythm of the game," said coach Paul Van Ass, without trying to look for any excuses. He added, "We were damaged pretty hard right in the start. We gave away too much and we did not play well. We did not play well, it was also nerves and when we came to terms with it, we played better in the last quarter."
Sardar Singh, looking disappointed at the scoreline, said, "We got a few chances, but they used their chances better. Sreejesh made some good saves, but we came under pressure." Australia were well served by Chris Ciriello's three goals from penalty corner conversions, while the others scorers were Alan Zalewski, Jamie Dwyer and Kieran Govers. For India, Birendra Lakra and Ramandeep Singh scored once each. It was Ramandeep's fourth goal of the tournament.
Australia duly topped the pool with an all-win record for 12 points. India were second with two wins and a draw besides a loss to Australia. Pakistan finished third in Pool A while France finished fourth with one win, one draw and two losses.
India's quarter-final opponent will be confirmed after the final group match between hosts Belgium and Ireland. A win for Belgium will push them to top place ahead of Great Britain, while Malaysia will be third with Ireland. That would mean an India-Malaysia quarter-final.
Through the match, the Australia kept attacking and pushing the Indians back and the latter were just not able to break away from the shackles. They kept swarming all over inside the Indian 25-yard line and every now and then created gaps with fast breakaways and switches. Even as they themselves managed counters, they did not allow the Indians with up and down movements.
Australia went ahead in the seventh minute with Australia's most capped player Jamie Dwyer made the ball on the right for Aran Zalewski, who scored for 1-0 in the seventh minute. For the second goal, Dwyer in possession of the ball near the half line, switched it to Blake Govers and himself ran up, while the latter followed with the ball. A sprinting Dwyer receiving the ball inside the circle, took a reverse hit into the goal for 2-0.
Australia added a third goal in the 25th minute as Chris Ciriello converted their first penalty corner. In the third quarter, Australia won a referral for a high ball and with it a penalty corner, which Ciriello converted (32nd minute).
India finally put themselves on the board with their first penalty corner on the 34th. Jasjit took the shot which was saved by Tyler Lovell, before Birendra Lakra scored off the rebound. Australia's Kieran Govers then smashed home from close range for 5-1 (42nd), before Ciriello scored off a penalty corner two minutes later.
India pulled one back through a Ramandeep Singh deflection. India take on Malaysia in the quarter-finals on July 1. In other quarter-final encounters, Australia play Ireland, Great Britain face Pakistan and Belgium play France.