India put up a gritty display but left to rue wasted chances as they held defending champions and world number two Australia to a 1-1 draw in their opening pool B match of the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneshwar on Friday.
Australia, through a penalty corner, nullified India’s brilliant counter-attacking goal in a thrilling 1-1 draw at the Kalinga Stadium.
India came dangerously close to scoring an early goal in the first quarter when Rupinder Singh blasted Lalit Upadhyay’s penalty corner – the first of the match – but the Aussie goalie Tyler Lovell stopped the fierce hit.
Buoyed by the packed, vociferous crowd at the Kalinga stadium, the hosts were dominating the first quarter. Eleven minutes into the game, they had 72% possession.
Australia, soon, were awarded a penalty corner after Harmanpreet Singh booted a ball near the Indian shooting circle. But Akash Chikte easily parried Jake Whetton’s strike off Aran Zalewski.
At the end of the first quarter, India had four shots on goal to Australia’s one.
India’s dominance continued in the second half when Akashdeep Singh made a brilliant run close to the Australian shooting circle and hammered the ball that went inches wide of Australia’s net. The visiting team were living dangerously and keeping them alive was their goalie – Lovell.
An Indian goal, however, seemed inevitable and it came four minutes into the second quarter when Mandeep Singh, diving to his left, flicked a lovely through ball from Lalit Upadhyay. The ball went through Lovell into the centre of Australia’s net. The Indian skipper Manpreet Singh, playing in his 200th international match, in a brilliant counter-attacking move from India’s half, had crossed the ball to Lalit, who set it up for Mandeep.
Australia won a penalty corner two minutes later when the ball touched Birendra Lakra’s left boot. Jeremy Hayward sent Daniel Beale’s corner straight into India’s net to equalise, heading into half-time.
The goal gave the visitors a much-needed boost in confidence and they looked better in the third and the fourth quarters.
Goalkeeper Triston Clemons, who replaced Lovell, impeded the Indians from taking a 2-1 lead three minutes into the third quarter when he parried Harmanpreet Singh’s strike off a penalty corner.
After this, the Australians took control of the game and made more forays into the oppostion’s half.
The home team were inches away from scoring the second goal in the last quarter when Harmanpreet took advantage of the Australian defence’s slip up and unleashed a stroke that hit the bar.
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