FIH Pro League 2023-24: India goes down 6-4 against Australia

Though India went ahead 4-2 at the break, Australia rallied late to score four goals in the second half and pip the home team by the barest of margins.

Published : Feb 15, 2024 21:20 IST , BHUBANESWAR - 2 MINS READ

India’s Mandeep Singh scores a goal against Australia in the FIH Hockey Pro League.
India’s Mandeep Singh scores a goal against Australia in the FIH Hockey Pro League. | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

India’s Mandeep Singh scores a goal against Australia in the FIH Hockey Pro League. | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

Indian men went down 6-4 to Australia in their FIH Pro League match on Thursday in a game that was enthralling and frustrating in equal measure.

To come back from a 2-0 deficit to lead 4-2 at half time showed a fight that would have pleased coach Craig Fulton. India has often folded up in the past when down against Australia, a team that India seems to fight as much on field as in the mind. The Dutch may be tough opponents but Australia, at its best, is a beast that never stops.

To India’s credit, it not only recovered after the opening onslaught but stuck to its plan and structure, fighting back to snatch control and matching the Aussies at their own game. India kept the pressure, took charge, denied the Aussies space, just as the opponents had tried to do, so much so that the second quarter was all about Indian attack and Australian errors. It was a high-intensity, end-to-end game that gave little time to settle, recover and regroup. 

India earned four penalty corners in the first 30 minutes and converted three of them, Harmanpreet Singh converting two of those. And then he sent a long diagonal pass from near the half line to a lonely Mandeep Singh inside the circle, the latter receiving, controlling and smashing in one move at the stroke of half time.

Thursday was perhaps one of the fastest games Australia played in recent times and any doubts of the Aussies fading away were laid to rest. They started with a bang, Blake Govers getting two inside the first two minutes as the Indians tried to understand what hit them before getting the defence in place. Post the break, the Aussies simply upped a gear – if that was possible. The attacks spread out, the pace increased, the forward line kept pressing high and the defence did not concede a single PC. India’s biggest weapon was blunted and there was no Plan B.

Earlier, Spain earned its first points in the competition with a hard-fought 4-2 win against Ireland.

Spain 4 (Enrique Gonzalez 13, 57, Marc Miralles 18, Marc Reyne 41) bt Ireland 2 (Matthew Nelson 24, Lee Cole 52); Australia 6 (Blake Govers 2, 2, 40, Lachlan Sharp 52, Jacob Anderson 55, Jack Welch 58) bt India 4 (Harmanpreet Singh 12, 20, Sukhjeet Singh 18, Mandeep Singh 29).
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