A shell-shocked India went down 1-7 to world No. 1 Australia in a Group A league match, thrashed by a team that was too strong and too dominating, at the Tokyo Olympics here on Sunday.
India, who had scraped through to a narrow 3-2 win against New Zealand on Saturday, were totally off colour and found the 2004 Olympic Games gold medallists too hot to handle, as the Kookaburras rode roughshod over Graham Reid’s boys and blasted seven goals past them at the Oi Hockey Stadium here.
Though the Indians matched the Aussies till midway through the first quarter, Colin Bach’s side slammed three goals in the second quarter to snuff out their challenge.
Daniel Beal opened the scoring for Australia in the 10th minute when he blasted home a penalty corner rebound off PR Sreejesh and the Indians went into the short break with a lot of hope as they had created some good chances in this quarter.
But things went haywire for the eight-time Olympic gold medallist in the second quarter as the Kookaburras scored thrice in quick succession. Jeremy Hayward made it 2-0 by flicking in a penalty corner, sending the ball through Sreejesh’s legs.
Flynn Ogilvie scored Australia’s third goal with a superb effort from a narrow angle and the world No. 1 side made it 4-0 when Joshua Beltz capitalised on a superb counter-attack to score a fine field goal.
The Indians pulled one back via Dilpreet Singh, who deflected in a long shot from Harmanpreet Singh into the goal. Though this goal raised hopes of a fight back by the Indians, those were short-lived as the Australians continued their onslaught
Blake Govers scored a brace in the third quarter and Tim Band struck the final nail in the coffin in the 61st minute. But by that time the Indians had lost all hope of even launching an attack on the Australian goal.
The Kookaburras played their typical brand of aggressive hockey, running hard and getting in the right places to make proper interventions. The Indians could not keep up pace with them and the defence was totally outclassed, at times leaving goalkeeper PR Sreejesh dejected. Sreejesh was also unlucky as some of the shots that he blocked, went back to the Australians.
India now have a rest day on Monday and will take on Spain on Tuesday. They now need to win the remaining three matches in Group A to finish second and qualify for the quarterfinals.