India rode their luck and an excellent goalkeeping performance from PR Sreejesh to beat Australia 3-1 through a shoot-out after the match ended 2-2 in regulation time.
Sreejesh denied Nathan Ephraums and Jake Harvie could not beat the hooter in the shoot out while India converted all their three attempts through Harmanpreet Singh, Vivek Prasad and Lalit Upadhyay to earn a deserved victory.
Having lost to Australia 4-3 in Friday’s encounter despite a late surge, India coach Graham Reid wanted the team to press from the start, and despite the hosts conceding a penalty corner in the very first minute, the players did show a lot more purpose.
Neither teams, however, created any clear chances in the first 15 minutes with Australia coming close only through the four penalty corners they earned. Lachlan Sharp even scored on the rebound from one of them but Sreejesh successfully asked for a video referral for a push on him.
The day’s first clear chance fell to India two minutes in the second quarter when Amit Rohidas sent a brilliant pass from the right flank and all the unmarked Germanpreet Singh had to do was direct the ball inside the net. But the striker’s attempted deflection went wide to the respite of the Australian custodian.
Trent Mitton finally broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute when he was released inside the circle on the right and his hopeful hit went through the legs of Krishan Pathak.
The goal brought the match alive and India began to press forward with much more intensity and turned the game on its head within the next three minutes.
The hosts earned their first penalty corner two minutes after Mitton’s strike and Rupinder found the net with a drag flick down the middle. Harmanpreet Singh gave India the lead for the first time in two days from another penalty corner just a minute later with his shot hitting Tim Brand’s stick before crashing into the net.
India lived a charmed life in the first few minutes of the second half as the Australians converted a penalty corner within a minute of restart. India had no video referral left but the referee chose to consult the video umpire and the goal was overturned for the ball hitting Manpreet Singh’s thigh.
Two minutes later, Australia got a penalty stroke for a block in front of the goal mouth by Sreejesh. Brand waited for the goalkeeper to commit and pushed the ball to his left only to find the outside of the post.
But India’s luck ran out in the very first minute of the fourth quarter when Australia were quick to get off the blocks and Zalewski was completely unmarked inside the striking circle. Pathak got his hand to the Australian’s slap hit but could not prevent him from scoring.
Both the teams pushed hard for another goal but the final touch inside the striking circle deserted them, taking the match into the shoot-out. Sreejesh was the clear star of the shoot-out as he made two good saves to help India win 3-1.
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