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Hockey: India loses first Test to Australia 4-5

A hat-trick of goals by mercurial forward Akashdeep Singh and a deadly flick by captain and drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh were not enough to save India from a narrow 4-5 defeat at hands of the hosts Australia in the first of five Test matches in Adelaide on Saturday. India conceded two goals in the last five minutes to lose a closely contested game.

After playing its opening round games against both New Zealand and Spain in the FIH Pro League, the Indian hockey team has been on a tour of Australia since early this week. It will lay five Test matches against Australia as a part of its preparations for the FIH Hockey World Cup for Men to be played in Rourkela and Bhubaneswar in January next year.

Akashdeep Singh scored brilliant field goals in the 10th, 27th and 59th minutes of the game. His efforts were supplemented by a penalty corner goal by skipper Harmanpreet Singh in the 31st minute.

In fact, it was Australia that took the lead in the fifth minute following a goal by Lachlan Sharp. Nathan Ephramus (21st minute), and Tim Craig (41st minute) were the other scorers. It was Blake Govers who tilted the tide in favour of the home team with two lethal penalty corner strikes in the 57th and 60th minute to snatch a victory out of the jaws of a defeat.

If India ended on a sling note, it was primarily because of some laxities in the second half where the Aussies made full use of openings in the defence and scored after India had taken a 3-2 lead and was hoping for a 4-4 draw till Blake Govers surprised the visitors with his penalty corner conversion in the last minute of the game.

                                                                               Prabhjot Paul Singh

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