| Australian captain Paul Gaudoin in a tussle with his Indian counterpart Dhanraj Pillay in Amstelveen on Tuesday. Following up is Deepak Thakur. (Reuters)
Amstelveen: Australia struck telling blows in the second half to hand India a humiliating 4-1 defeat in the 25th Champions Trophy hockey tournament at the Wagener Stadium here on Tuesday.
Later in the day, Pakistan came from behind to hold Holland 2-2. Teun de Nooijer and Teke taekema sounded the board for the defending champions while sohail abbas and Kashif Jawad scored for pakistan.
Australia’s win over India was their first in three matches, following their 3-5 defeat to Holland and a 4-4 draw with Pakistan. For India, it was their second defeat in three outings, having lost 3-4 to the Dutch. Their only victory has been over Germany, who they beat 3-2 earlier in the six-nation elite meet.
India, who came here as one of the title contenders, will now have to pull up their socks and win their next two league matches by big margins if they are to break their Champions Trophy jinx.
Grant Schubert emerged the hero for Australia, who led 1-0 at the break, with a hat-trick that highlighted his clinical finishing ability, while Troy Elder, playing a major role as a schemer, scored the other with a penalty stroke conversion.
For India, who paid the price for missing three clear-cut scoring chances in the first session, Dilip Tirkey scored their lone goal converting a penalty corner.
The Australians spread-eagled the Indian defence with their typical busy and pacy play. The Indians, after the early flourish, wilted under pressure and could not cash in on a reprieve in the form of a great save by goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan off a penalty stroke.
India had their chances in the first-half when they launched a few splendid counter-attacks, but the finish did not match the fluency or sharpness as Dhanraj Pillay, Prabhjot Singh and Ignace Tirkey all messed up.
Indian coach Rajinder Singh’s pre-match concern about his team’s midfield play was well justified as there was far too much of individual play when a quicker release of the ball would have served them better. The marking too was rather slipshod that allowed the Aussies too much room.
The Aussies enjoyed a lot of space in the midfield . Also, unlike the Indians, the forwards rotated the ball quite beautifully and constantly kept the rival defence under pressure.
The Indian deep defence, under the circumstances, came away with some neat interceptions to thwart the them. Goalkeeper Chauhan too excelled with several good blocks. India, who will be facing Argentina on Wednesday, need to win their next two matches to have some hope of making it to the final. (PTI)