Sunday, November 9, 2014

4th Test: India pip Australia 3-1, win four Test series 3-1

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

The onus was on Australia to throw a serious fight against India in the fourth and final hockey Test at the Perth Hockey Stadium in Perth on Sunday. The Indians only needed a draw to win the four-match Test series, while Australia were in desperate need of a win to level the series.

The contest was a fast-paced affair as both teams looked to seize the initiative. SV Sunil orchestrated a busy run on the left and created India’s first penalty corner, following a hard tackle by an Aussie defender. Vokkaliga Raghunath unleashed his drag-flick, which was saved by the Australian goalkeeper and in the ensuing melee Akashdeep Singh lurking near the far post slotted home in the 10th minute as India held the solitary goal lead in the opening quarter. The match was Sardar Singh's 200th international.

The Kookaburras tried to summon desperate measures in a bid to get back into the match and forced back-to-back penalty corners, but the Indian defence led PR Sreejesh foiled those efforts with aplomb. Australia failed to make the most of the numerical superiority when India had Harbir Singh and Kothajit Singh being given the temporary marching orders.

Australia played with more purpose in the second half, building consistent pressure in the Indian half and were rewarded when they profited from their third short corner. Tommy Craig slammed home after the penalty corner injection was not stopped properly. The Aussies forced two more penalty corners, but the Indian kept them at bay with stout defending – Raghunath’s first running skills helped their side to negate the home side’s fifth penalty corner. India were at a disadvantage in the closing stages of the third quarter after Gurbaj Singh was yellow-carded.

Having weathered Aussie onslaught in the third quarter, India moved forward with conviction and it was left to Akashdeep Singh to regain the lead for his side. Hardly had they celebrated that goal, Gurbaj Singh set up a nice move for SK Uthappa who banged home to give India a cozy 3-1 lead. The double strike pumped up the Indians as they
curbed the Australian raids to ensure another solid win. Thus, India have won the Test series 3-0, having lost the first Test 0-4, winning the second and third Tests 2-1 and 1-0 respectively.

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