| India’s Ignace Tirkey (foreground) fends off Australia A challenger David Hennessy in Sydney on Thursday. (AFP)
Sydney: Sandeep Michael struck twice as India overcame a spirited Australia A to carve out a 4-3 victory in the second leg of the three-nation invitational hockey tournament here on Thursday.
The victory put India on the path of another title showdown with Australia who beat Pakistan by an identical scoreline in the other match of the day.
India need just a draw against Pakistan in their final league match on Saturday to cement a berth in the final.
In their first league match on Wednesday, India had held Australia 3-3 while Pakistan beat Australia A 1-0.
On Thursday, it was Michael’s brilliant field goal in the 52nd minute that broke the 3-3 deadlock after Tristrom Woodhouse’s second goal, in the 50th minute, had put Australia A on par with India.
Australia A had twice earlier taken the lead, scoring through Woodhouse in the 6th minute and — after Dilip Tirkey had equalised in the 23rd minute — Grant Schubert in the 29th.
Michael’s first goal, in the 32nd, left the two sides tied 2-2 at half time.
The Indians completely dominated the second half making frequent forays into the Australian citadel.
It was Prabhjot Singh who put India ahead for the first time in the match when he sounded the board in the 43rd minute.
Woodhouse managed to draw parity for the Australians but the Indians struck back just two minutes later to seal the match in their favour.
“We played an attacking game, particularly in the second half when we created a number of chances. But there are some areas which we still need to work on,” Indian coach Rajinder Singh said.
Pakistan, earlier in the day, suffered their fifth defeat in six matches on this Australian tour when they were edged out 4-3 by the home team.
Striker Jamie Dwyer scored three of the four goals for Australia who maintained their undefeated streak in this two- leg tournament so far.
Pakistan actually led 3-2 midway into the second half until Dwyer scored twice in the 54th and 57th minutes.
Earlier, Ben Taylor drew the first blood for Australia when he scored in the eighth minute but Pakistan drew parity almost immediately through Shabbir Hussain.
In the 19th minute, Dwyer scored his first goal and Australia maintained the 2-1 lead till the break.
Goals by Mudassar Khan (39th) and Shakeel Abassi (48th) saw Pakistan surge ahead but were unable to hold on to their lead and succumbed to the brilliance of Dwyer.