Tokyo: World No 1 Australia displayed ruthless performance to beat India men’s hockey team 7-1 in their second Pool A match of the Tokyo Olympics here at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Sunday.
After a shaky start against Japan on Saturday, Australia proved their true mettle against India as they made a dominating start to their campaign with lethal attack that only got better as they progressed into the game.
While Tim Brand and Thomas Sharp made ambitious forays into the striking circle early in the first quarter, it was not until the 10th minute that they could convert the first goal. It was Jacob Whetton who took a powerful flick and James Beale put his stick in the way to deflect perfectly past India’s defence.
Though India created two good PCs in the 8th and the 15th minute, neither could be converted. Dilpreet too made a brave foray into the circle in the 13th minute but didn’t have enough support to finish the task.
In the second quarter, India’s defence was exposed as the Australians pumped three goals to stretch their lead to a formidable 4-0 at half time.
It was Jeremy Hayward who scored Australia’s second goal through a PC in the 21st minute, Flynn Ogilvie in the 23rd minute and Joshua Beltz in the 26th minute.
While the Australian team attack put the pressure on India, their defence was tight enough to not allow any breach by the Indian forwards.
Even though India came back from the 10-minute break looking to make amends to their dismal first half, the two PCs they secured in the 32nd and 33rd minute was wasted away with poor trapping and execution.
India’s breakthrough finally came in the 34th minute when Rupinder Pal Singh slammed the ball into the circle towards the post which was well-deflected by young forward Dilpreet to beat Australia keeper Andrew Charter.
The goal gave Manpreet-led side some confidence as they forced Australia to make errors which seemed to work as they were awarded a PC in the 39th minute. Harmanpreet did well to release a powerful shot and Mandeep tried to get a stick on it but missed by a whisker.
Australia replied strongly to this when they forced India to make a defensive error that earned them a penalty stroke in the 40th minute. Blake Govers was on target as he put the ball past India’s Sreejesh and scored again in the 42nd minute through a PC taking Australia’s lead to an unstoppable 6-1.
Even though India made 24 circle penetrations as opposed to 22 by Australia in the match, they could not muster breaching Australia’s solid defence in the circle.
Tim Brand ended up scoring Australia’s 7th goal in the 51st minute when he received a long pass from the midfield only to control it well, dribble past Sreejesh and beat Birendra Lakra to extend the team’s lead and romp home a massive win.
The Indian men’s hockey team will take on Spain next on Tuesday. New Zealand, Argentina and Japan are the other teams in Pool A.