Ipoh: Indian defence crumbled under the onslaught of a rampaging Australia as they were handed a 1-5 thrashing by the reigning world champions in their second league fixture of the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on Thursday. (Sardar Singh Saves India the Blushes, Registers 2-1 Win Against Japan)
Australia, eight-time winners of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, launched their campaign to reclaim the title they lost to New Zealand last year with a dominant performance against India, seeking to provide exposure to several youngsters. (Manpreet Singh to Miss Azlan Shah Cup)
Blake Govers (fifth minute), Jacob Whetton (13th), Eddie Okkenden (20th), Simon Orchard (25th) and Matt Gohdes (53rd) scored for Australia, who have brought virtually their full-strength squad to prepare for the Olympic Games. India’s lone goal came through a penalty corner conversion by Rupinder Pal Singh in the eighth minute.
This was Australia’s first outing in the round robin league while India prevailed 2-1 over Japan on Wednesday in an unimpressive campaign opener.
India paid the penalty for poor clearance and yawning gaps in their circle, which presented Australia two of their five goals. Starting with four circle penetrations in the initial 10 minutes, India failed to capitalise on an early chance when S.V. Sunil went too far ahead and failed to collect a fine diagonal ball from Chandana Thimmaiah in the third minute.
Australia opened the scoring in the fifth minute through Govers, whose stinging shot on the first penalty corner beat the outstretched pads of goalkeeper Harjot Singh to land in the right corner of the goal. India were back on level terms within three minutes as Mandeep Singh did well to earn a penalty corner from a cornered position on the goal-line by pushing the ball on to a defender’s foot. Rupinder converted the penalty corner with a low drag-flick into the board, but collided with an onrushing defender and had to be helped off the pitch.
Two minutes later, Sunil darted into the circle from the right and was in an one-on-one position with goalkeeper Andrew Charter, who did not face any difficulty in palming away the Indian’s rising shot.
Captain Jamie Dwyer’s brilliance created Australia’s second goal in the 13th minute as he collected a pass inside the circle and flicked the ball across the goalmouth and Whetton duly swept it past goalkeeper Harjot Singh.
India exerted some pressure through a combined move into the rival scoring zone, but the Australian defence held their ground in the goalmouth melee.
The Indian defence then presented an easy goal when Rupinder misdirected a clearance from inside the circle in the 20th minute, sending the ball to Australian striker Okkenden.