Hockey Pro League, India vs Australia: Sreejesh the hero as India wins shootout 3-1

P.R. Sreejesh saved a penalty stroke and kept out two Australian attempts in the shootout as India earned a bonus point after regulation time ended 2-2 on Saturday.

P.R. Sreejesh's (centre) outstanding goalkeeping helped India win the shootout against Australia after 2002 Champions Trophy.   -  biswaranjan rout

Razor-sharp reflexes and a dash of luck helped Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh on Saturday earn India's first penalty-shootout win against Australia in 18 years.

Following a 2-2 end to the regulation time in the FIH Pro League second leg, Sreejesh was penalised for his fouls on Daniel Beale and Tim Brand with penalty strokes in the shootout. Matt Dawson stepped up for the first spot flick which sneaked through the gap between Sreejesh's stick and pads but got a timber of his stick to save Daniel Beale's second penalty stroke.

For India, Harmanpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad converted their chances alongside Lalit Upadhyay and waited with bated breath as Jake Harvie ran in from 23 metres. Sreejesh poked the ball out of Harvie's reach to delay his rebound shot by a second as the hooter went off before the ball crossed the goalline.

With the 3-1 shootout win, India took two points from a possible three and is fourth in the Pro League table after going level on 10 points with Australia, which is third position on superior goal difference.

READ | Hockey Pro League, India vs Australia: India goes down fighting to defending champion

Earlier in the match, India kept out four penalty corners in the first quarter to make up for its lacklustre defending in the first leg. However, the host went behind in the 23rd minute when Trent Mitton made room on the right and beat Krishan Bahadur Pathak at the far post.

India hit back immediately through its first penalty corner of the evening when Rupinder Pal Singh smashed through keeper Tyler Lovell's legs in the 25th minute. The host made it two from two corners in the 27th minute when Harmanpreet Singh's dragflick took a deflection off an Australian stick to go into the back of the net.

After failing to convert three more penalty corners, Australia missed a golden opportunity to equalise when Tim Brand crashed a 33rd-minute penalty stroke into the goalpost. The Kookaburras went level in the 46th minute when skipper Aran Zalewski deflected Craig Whetton's midfield pass into the Indian goal.

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