IND vs AUS, 4th Test: India loses 1-3 to Australia, makes it four consecutive defeats

India continued its dismal show in the crucial tour Down Under, losing 1-3 against Australia to suffer its fourth consecutive defeat in the five-match men’s hockey Test series, here on Friday.

Contrary to the final result, it was a much-improved performance from the Indians but the Kookaburras was simply too strong.

All the four goals in the match, which started 40 minutes late due to lightning, came from penalty corners.

India took the lead in the 12th minute through skipper Harmanpreet Singh but Jeremy Hayward’s (19th, 47th) brace and Jack Welch’s (54th) strike handed Australia yet another win in the series.

India was decimated 1-5 in the opening Test, while it lost the second and third Tests 2-4 and 1-2 respectively.

India had the first shy at the goal in the opening minute through Mandeep Singh, whose hit from the top of the circle off skipper Harmanpreet’s Singh’s pass from the deep was saved by an alert Australian keeper.

The Kookaburras was not to be left behind as it secured back-to-back penalty corners in the second minute but veteran India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was superb under the bar, making twin saves to deny its opponents.

Unlike the previous three games where it relied more on aerial long passes to penetrate the Australian defence, the Indians used the midfield smartly, building its attacks with fine ball transfer.

It worked well as India secured its first penalty corner in the 10th minute but Jugraj Singh failed to convert the chance. A minute later, Australia earned its third penalty corner, followed by another but the Indians defended stoutly.

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India took the lead in the 12th minute when Harmanpreet converted its second penalty corner with a low and hard flick to the left of the goalkeeper.

Down a goal, the Kookaburras put relentless pressure on the Indians and drew level in the 19th minute when Hayward converted its fifth penalty corner with a powerful flick.

Soon, Rajkumar Pal’s reverse hit from the top of the circle hit the post for India.

Minutes later, Australia secured its sixth penalty corner but reserve goalkeeper Suraj Karkera made a brilliant save to keep his side in the contest.

There was nothing to separate the two teams in the first half as both matched each other stick for stick. Minutes after the change of ends, India secured another penalty corner but Harmanpreet failed to breach the Australian defence.

Thereafter, it was a mid-field slugfest with both India and Australia seemingly in no mood to give an inch as the 1-1 deadlock continued.

Two minutes into the final quarter, Australia earned back-to-back penalty corners, the second of which was converted by Hayward with another fierce low flick to the right of reserve keeper Karkera, who replaced Krishan Bahadur in the team.

The hosts kept up the pressure on the Indian goal and secured two more penalty corners in the next minute but couldn’t utilise. Six minutes later, Australia secured another penalty corner and this time Welch sounded the board.

India had its chances as well in the form of three penalty corners in the last four minutes but wasted the opportunities.

The final Test of the series will be played here on Saturday.

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