Sunday, August 3, 2014

India lose 0-4 to Australia, settle for silver

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

India’s hopes of winning its maiden Commonwealth Games hockey gold went up in smoke as a well-oiled Australian outfit thumped them 4-0 in a one-sided final match at the Glasgow National Hockey Center.

The Sardar Singh-led side, which turned in a superb effort to reach the final, had to settle for the silver as his side struggled to match the world champions. To be fair to the Indians, they looked a tad flat, perhaps not recovering adequately from their energy-sapping semifinal against New Zealand as back-to-back matches are never easy and can take a toll on the players. There was no lack of intent from India, but physically they did not seem to be there like the Kookaburras. The biggest solace for the 9th ranked side will be that they made the CWG final ahead of 5th England and 6th ranked New Zealand.

Australia asked quite a few occasions to the Indian defence in the early stages and their persistence paid off when drag-flick expert Chris Ciriello – one of the heroes of their World Cup triumph, including a hat-trick in the final against the Netherlands – fired home a low flick beating PR Sreejesh all ends up.

This was after India muffed their best opportunity to score when Nikkin Thiamiah floundered in the Australian ‘D’ after Ramandeep Singh drilled in a crafty backhanded pass. The Kookaburras forced another short corner in the 20th minute, but Rupinder Pal Singh blunted it down as the first runner.

India bungled a chance to equalize when Vokkaliga Raghunath’s drag-flick off their  first penalty corner was stopped by Kieren Govers on the line.
India paid for not making the most of the scant opportunities when Chris Ciriello converted Australia’s third penalty corner close to half-time, unleashing a low shot that grazed Sreejesh’s stick en route to the Indian goal.

India tried to up the tempo, but a crowded Aussie defence neutralized their raids as the Terry Walsh-coached side trailed 0-2 at half-time. Ciriello pile on the agony of India, completing a hat-trick converting their fourth short corner in the 49th minute. The match was literally sealed in Australia’s favour when Eddie Ockenden tapped home a Kierens Govers pass in the 51st minute.

The winds went out of the Indian sails after that as they seemed resigned to their fate as the Aussies won their fifth successive CWG gold medal.

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