India's hopes of securing a direct berth in next year's World Cup went up in smoke after they were handed a humiliating 1-5 defeat by Australia in the quarterfinal of the men's competition of the FIH World League Round 3, here on Wednesday.
Six top teams -- three each -- will qualify directly for the 2014 World Cup to be held in Hague, The Netherlands from the two editions of FIH World League Round 3 -- the ongoing event in Rotterdam and then the next one to be held in Malaysia from June 29 to July 7.
An error-prone India needed a miracle to topple Australia in what was the 100th international fixture between the two sides. But it was not be as the Kookaburras dished out a clinical performance to make short work of the Sardar Singh-led side.
The Australians took the stuffing out of India in the first 35 minutes by scoring as many four goals -- Glenn Simpson (2nd minute), Matt Gohdes (20th, Russell Ford (22nd) including an own goal by Indian defender Sandeep Singh while their fifth goal was scored by Matthew Swann in the 39th minute.
Chinglensana Singh scored the consolation goal for India in the 21st minute.
Ranked second in the world, the Australians started the match as favourites against the 11th ranked Indians and they played according to their reputation by dominating the share of possession throughout the match.
The Indians played catch-up hockey in the entire 70 minutes and did not look convincing at all in all departments of the game.
To add to it, India's perennial problem, a fragile defensive line continued to hurt them badly.
Australia were on the offensive from the onset and it took them just two minutes to break the deadlock when Simpson scored from their first penalty corner after Christopher Ciriello perfectly laid the ball for him.
India got a chance to equalise in the 15th minute when they earned a penalty corner but Sandeep Singh cut a sorry figure with the resultant effort.
The Kookaburras looked menacing and utilised the scoring chances that came their way.
Gohdes doubled Australia's lead in the 20th minute with a field goal from top of the circle.
India, however, pulled one back in the subsequent attack when Chinglensana scored with a fierce hit, courtesy some sloppy defending from the Australians inside the circle.
But Sandeep helped Australia regain their lead by scoring an own goal and then Ford made the scoreline 4-1 when his shot slammed the back of the Indian net after he was set up Kieran Govers.
Australia continued on the same vein in the second half and kept up the pressure on the Indians with frequent raids.
The Kookaburras increased their lead to 5-1 just four minutes into the second period when Swann tapped home a rebound from their second penalty corner.
The Indians, thereafter, tried hard to force a comeback with a few promising raids but the Australian defence stood tall to deny their opponents.
Australia got back-to-back penalty corners to increase their lead in the dying minutes of the match but the Indian defence did enough to deny their opponents any more goals.
India will now play the loser of the last quarterfinal between Netherlands and France in the 5-8 classification matches on Friday.
Belgium will face New Zealand in the first semifinal, while Australia will be up against the winner of the last quarterfinal between hosts Netherlands and France.