AMN / Johor Bahru (Malaysia)
Playing to a plan, India outplayed Australia 5-1 to book their berth in the Final of the 9th Sultan of Johor Cup junior hockey at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here on Wednesday.
The clinical performance saw goals from Shilanand Lakra (26′, 29′), Dilpreet Singh (44′), Gursahibjit Singh (48′) and Mandeep Mor (50′).
India had the first sight of goal in the opening minute due to misjudgement off an aerial ball. Gursahibjit was clear on goal in the circle but Robert Maclennan was quick to come off his line though and block the angles, before clearing the ball to safety.
For the rest of the quarter, both teams wrested for control in midfield, the Aussies earning the first PC of the game in the eight-minute a mistrap from the injection putting paid to their chances to score.
Early in the second quarter, goalkeeper Prashant Chauhan was called into action. Off a swift attack, Michael Francis’ shot was deflected by Sam McCulloch towards goal but Chauhan pulled off a reflex save
India surged ahead in the 26th minute as Shilanand Lakra scored a fine goal. The move was kicked off from a counter, Dilpreet Singh’ inch perfect pass unlocking the entire Aussie defence. The ball fell to Lakra in the circle, who had time to go around a charging Maclennan to score.
Right at the end of the quarter, Australia almost hit back, with a succession of PCs, but Chauhan again saved superbly. Off the second PC, India launched a counter, and it was the Dilpreet-Lakra combination again causing havoc in the Australian defence, the latter scoring a simple tap in to double India’s tally( 2-0).
India maintained the pressure the third quarter causing Australia all sorts of problems. They had the pick of the chances too in the period. Shilanand Lakra, Sudeep Chirmako and Uttam Singh kept attacking but failed to beat Australia’s substitute goalkeeper Christian Starkie.
In the 44th minute,Gursahibjit Singh setup Dilpreet at the base of the circle who turned, swerved and unleashed a superb reverse hit into the far corner to give India a 3-0 lead.
The winners earned a third PC at the start of the third quarter, and Sanjay's drag flick was deflected by Gursahibjit to extend India's lead.
Mandeep Mor added more gloss to the scoreline with a superb drag flick in the 50th minute. Aaron Knight scored a consolation in the 57th minute for Australia .