Having beaten world champions Germany 3-2 on Friday, the Indian men’s hockey team showed it wasn’t a flash in the pan as they out-muscled Tokyo Olympics silver medallists Australia 5-4 in Pro League in Rourkela on Sunday.
A hat-trick by skipper Harmanpreet Singh (14th, 15th, 56th) and a goal each by Jugraj Singh (18th) and Selvam Karthi (26th) helped the hosts win at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium. Joshua Beltz (3rd), Ky Willott (43rd), Ben Staines (53th) and Aran Zalewski (57th) scored for Australia.
In an end-to-end contest, Australia silenced the home crowd early with Beltz’s strike.
Harmanpreet, who had narrowly missed the first chance to convert a penalty corner (PC), perfectly executed an opportunity to equalise late in the first quarter. A minute later, Abhishek set up another PC for India and Harmanpreet scored in similar fashion to hand India the lead (2-1) for the first time.
Three minutes into the second quarter, Jugraj put India ahead 3-1 after converting a stroke past Australian goalie Benjamin Rennie. Karthi grabbed the limelight with a brilliant goal, giving India a formidable 4-1 lead going into half-time.
The third quarter saw a determined Australia work hard to narrow the lead, which they did via Willott. They made it 4-3 when Staines converted a solid chance in the circle.
With a little less than five minutes left, India won a PC and it was converted by Harmanpreet, who completed his hat-trick and put India ahead 5-3. Australia though bounced back with their fourth goal when a PC rebound was picked up by Zalewski.
It was India’s fourth outright win in six matches in the 2022-23 Pro League. They play Germany again on Monday.