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Hockey

FIH Hockey Pro League: India remains unbeaten, beats Australia in shootout

Indian hockey team continued their unbeaten run defeating Australia 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out in FIH Pro League.

FIH Hockey Pro League: India remains unbeaten, beats Australia in shootout
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By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 15 March 2023 5:22 PM GMT

Indian men's hockey team continued their unbeaten run at Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, Rourkela after Sreejesh's heroics in the penalty shootout against Australia.

After a hat-trick of wins, the Indian Men's Hockey Team put up a resilient performance against Australia in the last home game.

The match was tied 2-2 in the regulation time with goals from Vivek Sagar Prasad and Sukhjeet Singh.

India got off to a rollicking start earning a well-worked PC in the 2nd minute of the match. Captain Harmanpreet Singh's powerful drag-flick was padded away by Australian keeper Johan Durst. But the rebound was picked up brilliantly by Vivek Sagar Prasad who beat the Australian defender Jake Harvie to take a successful shot on goal from the top of the circle.

Playing his 100th match for India today, Vivek made it memorable for his team by giving a head start against the dominant Australian squad.

Pushing Australia on the back foot, India created a couple of more PCs in the following minutes of the first quarter but could not make much of the opportunity.

Despite the pressure being mounted on them with the quality attack by India, the visitors created some fine moves inside the circle. An alert Indian defense remained tactically strong and youngster Pawan too did well in guarding the post.

After a goalless second quarter, Australia finally made a breakthrough in the 37th minute when Nathan Ephraums converted a penalty stroke. It took India another ten minutes to regain the lead when Sukhjeet Singh converted a field goal in the 47th minute.

With pressure building on both teams, and time ticking away, they put up a grand show on par with each other.

An unintended foul by the Indian defense in the 52nd minute, however, gave away a crucial PC to Australia which was converted with a clever execution. Anand Gupte faking a drag flick, the stopper passed the ball to Tim Howard who put the ball into the post.

With scores tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation time, both teams went into a tense shootout.

Veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh once again proved just why he is a class apart as he not only made some fine saves but also took a crucial referral that saved the day for India and even won the extra point for his team.

This game saw India finishing off the home leg of the FIH Pro League on a high with three wins and one draw.

India had registered successive wins against reigning World Champions Germany 3-2 and 6-3, and 5-4 against World No.4 Australia.

They had begun this season of the prestigious league with a 4-3 and 7-4 win against New Zealand followed by a 2-3 loss and 2-2 (3-1 SO) win against Spain in the home games played in October-November last year.

Next, India will resume the FIH Hockey Pro League matches in May 2023 when they travel to Europe to take on Belgium, Great Britain, Netherlands, and Argentina.

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