Rourkela, March 15 India ended on an exciting note in the FIH Pro League mini-cluster in Rourkela, beating Australia 4-3 in a sudden-death shootout on the final day at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.
It was a close-knit clash between India and Australia as the teams drew 2-2 in regulation time with one point each. India then scored extra points by beating Australia 4-3 in a sudden death shootout.
Through the first five attempts of the penalty shootout, the two teams were tied at 3-3. As the game went into sudden death, skipper Harmanpreet Singh, who was voted man of the match, scored in his second try from the penalty shoot-out to give India the lead, while PR Sreejesh scored in the penalty shoot-out against Jack Welch. A third save gave India the penalty shootout win and an extra point.
As a result, India, with 11 of 12 points at home, have now extended their lead at the top of the professional league table to 19 points from eight games played.
India got off to a good start as they won an early penalty corner when a long aerial ball from Harman Preet almost found Abhishek, but his space was eaten away by James Collins who fell back.
Vivek Sagar Prasad, playing his 100th match, was on target for India as Harmanpreet’s first ball was brought down. Vivek receives the ball, drives it into the center circle, and then fires a powerful tomahawk finish into the bottom right corner of the goal.
The quarter belonged to the hosts as India kept prodding Australia’s goals with attacks and nearly doubled their lead through Hardik Singh. Sukhjeet’s cross avoided the Indian and Australian cues in front of goal and found Hardik at the far post, but his counter-attack missed the target.
In the 20th minute of the second quarter, Jaman Preet Singh gained possession of the ball inside the Indian circle, but his pass to Sumit went straight out of bounds, and the Australian team won the first goal of the game in the 20th minute. A corner kick. The resulting penalty corner was well saved by experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who stuck his boot to the left and saved it.
Nathan Ephraums came close to the tie midway through the second period when he got around Sreejesh and shot from a tight angle, but his shot hit the post and went out of bounds.
Australia maintained their advantage at the start of the second half and were awarded a penalty corner 2 minutes after the restart. Anand Gupte hit a powerful drag ball from the corner but it went wide to the left. Australia equalized in the 37th minute when young keeper Pawan’s tackle across Everorums missed the ball and brought the Australian striker down, earning them a penalty, which Everorums easily put away. The ball is taken.
India took the lead early in the final period as Eddie Okendon tried to get in front of Karti with a brilliant spin and cross inside the Australian circle. It was a double whammy for the visitors as Okenden mentioned a goal to push the build-up but there was no evidence of that and Australia lost their recommendation.
Australia leveled midway through the final period as a fine display from the penalty corner allowed Ephraums to block Howard’s low shot and Sreejesh’s wrong foot hit the backboard.
With most of the game played at halftime, neither team could find a winner in a tense final period. The game went into a penalty shootout, with both teams looking for extra points after securing a point each in the allotted time.
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