BHUBANESWAR: India continued their recent run of success against Australia by carving out a 2-0 victory in a practice game at the Kalinga Stadium Hockey Complex on Wednesday.
It was a much better show by the Indians, who had gone down to the Netherlands by a solitary goal in their first practice match two days ago. The keenly-contested match, which ended after the third quarter, saw 13-time champions Australia dominate the first two, launching lightening attacks from the flanks and down the middle.
They created a number of chances, only to squander them all at the finishing point. India goalkeeper P R Sreejesh put up a top-class performance, blocking or kicking out missiles fired by the opposition forwards. He seemed to have fully decoded their scoring secrets.
But to everyone’s surprise, the Aussies slowed down in the third quarter, while the home team came on top firing on all cylinders. Finding rhythm and coordination, the Indians often caught the opposition defence on the wrong foot and scored two goals in quick succession.
Young drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh drew first blood, neatly converting one of the two penalty-corners that came India’s way. S V Sunil capped the victory in style, scoring a field goal off a well-planned move.
But amidst the euphoria, India experienced a setback when captain Sardar Singh limped out off ground, suffering a leg injury. Though the gravity of the injury could not be ascertained, stand-in coach Roelant Oltmans did not think it was serious.
“Injuries are a part and parcel of a player’s life. I don’t think Sardar will miss any match. We have a good medical team to take care of the players and I’m optimistic of the captain getting fit for the opening game,” said Oltmans.
Summing up the day’s performance, Oltmans said: “We played our own game and did a better job than in the previous one. We created chances and won. Sreejesh did a very good job.”
England held Netherlands to a 1-1 draw in another warm-up game of the day. Germany landed as the last team. They will play their first match against India.