India suffered a poor start in the four-nation hockey tournament as they lost to Australia 2-3 on Wednesday. Though Rupinder Pal Singh scored a brace for India, it was not enough as the home team looked strong to start the competition with a win.
India enjoyed a good first quarter, but they did not have anything to show on the scorecard, which read 0-0 at the end of the first 15 minutes. Both teams were tight on their defence, not wanting to concede an early goal. The second quarter was much more exciting as India took lead in the 21st minute, with Rupinder converting the penalty corner. It was third time lucky for the defender, as Rupinder's earlier effort in penalty corners did not lead to a goal.
The game came back to life, with Australia also playing some good hockey with the hope of drawing level. The home team did not take much time to come back into the game as Jez Hayward levelled it with a quality drag-flick in the 24th minute. India looked scrappy in the final moments of the second quarter.
The second half started on a tight note, but Australia took lead as Hayward converted his second penalty corner to take 2-1 lead. It was a powerful drag-flick from Hayward, who struck it to the right of goalkeeper Akash Chikte.
India were also making some errors at the back, which was strengthening Australia's dominance in the third quarter. Things were turning against India, as Australia scored their third goal with Trent Mitton finding the back of the net from close range.
SK Uthappa got a good chance to score India's second goal, but he hit it wide. On the other end, moments later, Chikte saved India from conceding one more goal with an amazing save to keep the scoreline 1-3.
The game was shaping for an interesting finish as Rupinder scored his second to make it 2-3, and seven minutes were left on the clock for the match to end. India had deserved the goal with a quality performance in the first 10 minutes of the final quarter. Despite India's pressure in the final stages of the match, Australia held their ground to register a victory.
Earlier, India women's hockey team played some quality hockey to start their tour of Australia with a narrow 1-0 win. Skipper Rani Rampal scored the only goal of the match in the 21st minute to help India emerge victorious. It was a brilliant all-round game, which saw India beat one of the top sides in women's hockey.
Considering India women lost 1-6 to Australia in Rio Olympics, this is a sweet revenge over the Aussies.