India went down 1-3 against Australia after squandering a lead in a league match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Tuesday. After drawing against Great Britain in the opener and beating New Zealand 3-0 next, this was India's first loss. India held Australia, the world champions, in the first quarter. A field goal by Harmanpreet Singh gave India the initial lead in the 26th minute. However, the five-time champions failed to hold on to it as Australia pumped in three field goals after that to stay on top in the round-robin league standings.
Eddie Ockenden (30th minute), Tom Craig (34th) and Tom Wickham (51st) showed why Australia are one of the most feared teams in the world through their outstanding field goals as the Indian challenge faded in the last quarter.
Nine-time winners of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Australia now have seven points from three outings, while last year's runner-up India are on four points after three matches.
Australia went into attacking mode from the start but the Indian defenders did their job to stop goals. However, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh soon limped off the field injuring himself. Akash Chitke replaced him in the 13th minute.
India broke the deadlock to take the initial lead in the 26th minute when Harmanpreet scored a field goal. Working his way into the circle from the right, Harmanpreet crossed the ball for Mandeep in the goalmouth, but it went into the goal off a defender's stick.
Goalkeeper Chikte palmed away an Australian penalty corner shot before Ockenden deflected in a long diagonal cross from Jeremy Hayward for the equaliser just before half-time. Craig then beat the Indian goalkeeper with his reverse shot after being fed by captain Matthew Swann.
The third Australian goal, from Wickham came after he ran square into the circle as three Indian defenders hesitated to tackle him. Wickham slammed in a firm shot that gave no chance to the custodian.
(With PTI inputs)