Saturday, October 18, 2014

4th Sultan of Johor Cup: Stupendous India whack Australia 6-2, meet Britain in final

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

There have been quite a few occasions when the Indian senior men’s hockey team have been handed heavy defeats by Australia. The 0-8 defeat in the final of the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games, 3-8 defeat in a four nation tourney in Australia in 2009 and 1-7 loss at the Hockey World League event in Rotterdam in 2013 are few memories that come readily come to mind. On Saturday, the Indian junior men’s hockey team handed Australia a dose of their own medicine, inflicting a 6-2 drubbing to the 2011 runners-up in a crucial tie of the 4th Sultan of Johor Cup at the Tamam Daya Stadium in Johor Bahru. Of course, India’s passage to the final was made easy by already qualified Great Britain, who crushed the Aussies 5-1 in their final league match, which effectively meant that India only needed a draw against the Burras, who had no choice but to go all out for a win to force an Australia-Great Britain final.

The Harjeet Singh-led Indians nipped all such designs of the Aussies in the bud rattling up a 3-0 lead in the first nineteen minutes of play. India were quick on the ball and looked more assured with their possession, at times driving frustration in the Australian ranks. On-song Harmanpreet Singh, who had slammed a splendid hat-trick against Malaysia in the previous game, converted India’s first penalty corner in the 9th minute. Parvinder Singh doubled the scoreline making the most of a precise drill-in by Santa Singh from the right flank. Simranjeet showed his opportunism and dispossessed the Aussie players to log the third goal. Pawan Kumar slotted home India’s fourth goal in the 23rd minute after being set up by Armaan Quereshi. Australia reduced the margin through Brandon Honer a minute later – firing home a short corner after they muffed up the first three penalty corners.

Harmanpreet converted a penalty stroke close to half-time – the set-piece resulted from their fourth short corner. India enjoyed a commanding 5-1 lead at half-time. Harmanpreet racked up his second consecutive hat-trick to make the scoreline 6-1 early in the second half. Battered by the pounding from the Indians, the Aussies struggled to life their game and seemed resigned to their fate. Brandon Honer did pull off a second goal which was more off consolation than anything else.

India also exacted sweet revenge over Australia for their 0-2 loss to them in the 2012 edition. India now face Great Britain in the final showdown on Sunday and they will be vying to retain the crown they won last year beating Malaysia 3-0 in the final.

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