India 1-3 Australia, Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: India’s fate hangs in the balance

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Harmanpreet Singh scored for India for a second game running.

India were convincingly beaten 1-3 by Australia in the league stages of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Tuesday. Harmanpreet Singh gave India the lead in the second quarter after a smart run down the right by Mandeep Singh to find Harmanpreet vacant at the far post to push the ball in.

At the stroke of half time, Australia levelled to make it 1-1 with Eddie Ockenden finding the narrowest of angles to beat Akash Chikte at the near post. Chikte had come on to replace PR Sreejesh who had to hobble off after a collision with an Australia player left him with on the floor.

Australia started the second half in a much superior state winning three penalty corners in a quick span. And on the third, Australia capitalised with a field goal. After Matthew Swann failed to trap the ball properly, he regained his composure to whip a ball in the area which Tom Craig controlled exceptionally and then turn to shoot underneath Chikte.

In the final quarter, Australia put the game well beyond India’s reach after Tom Wickham dribbled beautifully to beat Indian shirts and then shoot past Chikte to take a 3-1 lead.

The loss for India took them to third, from second, and further strengthened Australia’s place at the top. With three matches apiece, Australia have 7 points while India have four points. Second placed Great Britain have four points, same as India, but a superior goal difference: India have a +1 goal difference as against Britain’s +2. Britain have also played a game less and take on hosts Malaysia later in the day.

India have two matches left – against Japan and Malaysia – a win or a draw for Britain could very well put India out of a chance to take their winning tally at the tournament from four to five.

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