Indian boys in AYOF hockey final, girls lose again

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Indian boys team continued with their rampaging form and trounced Great Britain 6-1 in the 2nd league match of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

Updated: January 15, 2009 10:58 IST
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The Indian boys hockey team continued with their rampaging form and trounced Great Britain 6-1 in the second league match of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) at the Olympic Hockey Centre here to book their berth in the final of the four-nation tournament.

However, the girls team lost their second successive match on Thursday that dashed their hopes of progressing to the title round.

The girls had gone down 1-3 to Great Britain on Wednesday and suffered a 2-3 defeat to Australia today.

In the under-21 men's encounter, skipper Diwakar Ram (7th and 16th minutes) was at his best with the dragflicks while striker Pramod Kumar (38th, 46th) too joined the party along with Danish Mujtaba (26th) and Jaykaran (66th).

The Britishers started proceedings with much vigour but as the game wore on, India wrested the initiative and an early goal opened the floodgates.

Diwakar made no mistake in handing India the lead with a perfect dragflick from a short corner.

Great Britain tried to forge their way back into the game with some counterattacks but India managed to thwart their advances.

And at the other end, had it not been for British goal-keeper Ian Scanlon, who blocked several attempts in the first half, India's margin of victory could have been bigger. Despite Scanlon's heroics, Diwakar doubled the lead with his second in the 16th minute following a penalty stroke.

In the 25th minute, the Indians had another opportunity to increase the lead but this time Diwakar was off target before heavy rains and strong winds hit the ground.

The match went on despite the inclement weather and a minute later Mujtaba made it 3-0 for India, netting home a rebound from a penalty corner.

Great Britain had an opportunity to reduce the deficit in the dying stages of the opening half, but custodian Mrinal Chaubey's neat work saw India go into the breather with a 3-0 cushion.

Pramod scored two quick goals after the change of ends through rebound hits from short corners to take the game away from their rivals.

Great Britain managed to pull one back in the 65th minute through Catlin Nick but a minute later India's Jaykaran completed formalities with a beautifully worked out field goal.

Despite India's strong showing in the tournament and their progress to Sunday's final, coach AK Bansal issued a stern warning to his players not to be be complacent in the last league match against Malaysia on Saturday.

"The boys played exceedingly well today compared to yesterday. In both matches they displayed technically sound hockey. We are definitely through to the finals but we would like to finish off the league stage with an all-win record," Bansal said.

Bansal, under whom the colts have performed exceedingly well in the international circuit so far, expressed happiness over the team's preparations for the Junior World Cup to be held later this year in Singapore and Malaysia.

"Our World Cup preparation is well on track. In all the tournaments we are implementing the strategies keeping the World Cup in mind."

After a rest day tomorrow, Indian boys will take on Malaysia in their last league match on Saturday, while their female counterpart will be up against USA.

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