Australia’s men have moved up to third place in the FIH Hockey Pro League thanks to a thrilling 4-3 victory over hosts India at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday (21 February).
The Kookaburras were at their imperious best in the first, second, and third quarters, dominating the home favourites to open up a 4-1 lead thanks to goals from Dylan Wotherspoon, Tom Wickham, Lachlan Sharp and Jacob Anderson.
However, India produced a spirited performance in the final quarter, with Raj Kumar Pal adding to his third quarter penalty corner with a stunning field goal to make it 4-2 before Rupinder Singh’s superb penalty corner drag-flick pulled India to within one goal going into the final eight minutes. Rupinder had a glorious chance to level the scores with a last minute penalty corner, but his effort sailed wide of the mark, giving Australia all three points.
Australia’s Lachlan Sharp, who was named Player of the Match, said that he was “definitely disappointed” with the final quarter, but was pleased with the overall performance and was quick to comment about the strength and depth of the Kookaburras squad.
“It [the fourth quarter] was not what we wanted, but to have a good defence in the end and hold them out, it was a good win. We have a squad of 27 who can step up on their day and play their role. I think we showed that tonight. The Kalinga Stadium is always a great place to play, we love the support of the Indian crowd, so thank you for that.”
India captain Manpreet Singh also gave his thoughts regarding today’s performance: “I think we are quite disappointed because we didn’t start well, conceding three goals. In the fourth quarter we came back and actually played our game, and because of that we scored two goals. I think we didn’t create many chances in the first three quarters but in the last quarter we did, so we need to come back [strong] for tomorrow’s match.”
The two teams meet again in the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday (22 February), with Australia knowing that another victory would see them climb above the Netherlands and into second in the standings. To see the complete match schedule, click here.