The Indian men’s hockey team was blown away like a tin roof in a hurricane as Australia continued its dominant show at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Kookaburras, who thumped India 7-0 in Monday’s gold medal match at the University of Birmingham, have now won in every edition since the sport was introduced in the CWG programme in Kuala Lumpur 1998.
England won the bronze medal, having beaten South Africa 6-3.
The Indians found themselves stretched all across the 25 yards up top in a lopsided match that saw Nathan Ephraums and Jacob Anderson score a brace each even as Blake Govers, Flynn Ogilvie, and Tom Wickham also found themselves on the scoresheet.
Australia put the ball into the net in the second minute itself but the referee had to disallow the goal as the ball had struck the foot of defender Daniel Beale en route. Ephraums found the foot of a retreating Varun Kumar in the eighth minute to hand Australia an early chance with a penalty corner. However, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh put in a crucial save to deny the Aussies.
Govers opened the scoring in the 13th minute to bring up his seventh goal of Birmingham 2022. He took advantage of a penalty corner to drive one off Sreejesh’s left kicker and into the goal.
With just over a minute remaining in the first quarter, Ephraums swooped in to get the final touch on the ball en route to the goal after defender Jake Harvie’s measured pass across the field found Anderson.
Early in the second quarter, skipper Manpreet Singh set up an attacking move from the right after Matt Dawson lost possession in India’s half. However, as Gurjant Singh looked to work his way in from across the baseline, six yellow shirts had already made it to the near post.
Sreejesh made a crucial save with eight minutes to go into the second quarter but another penalty corner saw Anderson nudge one over the line to make it 3-0.
India’s defenders were the first to forward Timothy Brand’s cross from the right side of the pitch in yet another counter-attack but India received a big blow when Manpreet had to saunter out with an injury owing to an accidental high elbow from Australia captain Aran Zalewski.
There was a bit of confusion regarding the number of Indian players on the pitch post Nilakanta Sharma’s suspension and Manpreet’s return, which briefly stopped play. Post restart, Australia scored again as Wickham got the softest of touches on Brand’s shot on target to confuse Sreejesh. Meanwhile, Manpreet had to unfortunately walk out again shortly after.
With three minutes left on the clock in the quarter, the Indian defence was caught napping again as Anderson got on the forward run in the defence to strike home.
India pressed further in the second half but it did little to reverse the course of the game as Australia continued to pile on the misery. Midfielder Flynn Ogilvie, sensing an opportunity, sent in a sensational ball into the circle from the far right. A diving Ephraums got a feather on that before it beat Sreejesh into the goal.
The first attack of the final quarter came from India, but it was Australia again, which got the goal as Brand dribbled at the far corner before spinning around and getting the cross in for Ogilvie to tap home.
Wickham’s second effort was disallowed after a referral from Jarmanpreet Singh found that it had come off the back of the Australian’s stick. However, by then the match had already been sealed by the defending champion.
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