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India narrows past Australia 4-3 in third hockey Test; first win in 13 years; fans celebrate

Hockey Test: India came up with a spirited but winning performance against Australia in the third Test on Wednesday in Adelaide. With this 4-3 victory, the Men in Blue registered their first success over the Kangaroos in 13 years.

India narrows past Australia 4-3 in third hockey Test; first win in 13 years, fans celebrate-ayh
First Published Nov 30, 2022, 4:26 PM IST

A fighting India scored a last-minute goal to stun world number one side Australia 4-3 in the third hockey Test and notch up their first win in 13 years at the State Hockey Centre in Adelaide on Wednesday. It was a rare win for India against Australia, who had thrashed them 7-0 in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games final earlier this year. The famous win also kept the five-match series alive, with Australia leading 2-1. India had lost 4-5 and 4-7 in the first two Tests. The fourth match will be played at the same venue on Saturday, and the final one on Sunday.

Skipper Harmanpreet Singh (12th minute), Abhishek (47th), Shamsher Singh (57th) and Akashdeep Singh (60th) scored for India. Australia's goals came from the sticks of Jack Welch (25th), skipper Aran Zalewski (32nd) and Nathan Ephraums (59th). Both the teams started on a patient note, trying to keep their defence intact while looking for counter-attacks.

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Australia had the first chance in the seventh minute. It was a scramble before the India goal, but Krishan Bahadur Pathak denied the hosts with some desperate goalkeeping. India took the lead in the 12th minute from a penalty corner through skipper Harmanpreet, who went for placement rather than brute power. He placed the ball perfectly to the right of Australia goalkeeper Johan Durst.

The post denied young Sukhjeet Singh a brilliant goal after he set up the opportunity with excellent 3D skills. In the 20th minute, veteran India custodian PR Sreejesh denied Australia as he was alert at the near post to keep out a reverse hit. Minutes later, Sreejesh was again at the thick of things as he made a triple save from a penalty corner before Surender Kumar kept the ball out.

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Australia drew level in the 25th minute when Welch scored his third goal of the series, glancing in Tim Howard's searching ball after an alert Sreejesh thwarted Jerry Hayward's drag-flick from a penalty corner. The home side continued to press hard after the change of ends, earning back-to-back penalty corners two minutes after the restart. Skipper Zalewski deflected in the second attempt from Hayward's indirect try to take the lead.

India earned an early penalty corner in the fourth and final quarter, and Abhishek found the back of the Australian net, deflecting in Harmanpreet's flick from close range. India secured a penalty corner in the 52nd minute but failed to utilise it. Rajkumar Pal came close to scoring, but his shot from the top of the circle went wide.

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India applied pressure on the Australian defence in the final quarter. It managed to secure another penalty corner, and Shamser was at the right place at the right time to tap in from close after Jugraj's initial try was saved by the opposition goalkeeper. In the final few minutes of the game, it was end-to-end stuff as Australia soon earned a penalty corner, but Sreejesh stood like a wall in front of the Indian goal.

A minute from the final hooter, Australia secured two consecutive penalty corners but failed to breach the Indian defence. But, the match was far from over as 54 seconds from time, Akashdeep scored after being fed by a selfless Mandeep Singh to hand India a famous win.

(With inputs from PTI)

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