India beat Australia in Sultan of Johor Cup, seal semifinal spot

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JOHOR BAHRU (MALAYSIA), Oct 10 (PTI): The Indian junior men’s hockey team recorded its fourth successive victory at the Sultan of Johor Cup with a 5-4 win over defending champions Australia, assuring a semifinal spot.

The win has also helped India top the pool.

India made a dominating start to the game. Though their initial chance of scoring from a PC went amiss, Gursahibjit Singh scored a fine field goal to give India 1-0 lead in the 5th minute.

The team built on a good start to score three more back-to-back goals in the 11th, 14th and 15th minute through Haspreet Singh, Mandeep Mor and Vishnukant Singh respectively. The 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter was a major setback for the defending champions.

However, India faltered in their defence in the second quarter only to give away an easy goal through a penalty stroke in the 18th minute. Damon Steffens, who scored the first goal for Australia, ended up scoring the second goal too when an Indian infringement inside the circle saw them concede a PC in the 35th minute, narrowing the goal deficit to 4-2.

Though Shilanand Lakra scored in the 43rd minute to take India’s lead to 5-3, Australia put India through some tense moments as they appeared to make a late recovery, by stretching India’s defence.

In the 59th minute, the pressure to defend the scoreline saw India colts give away another penalty stroke which was easily converted by Steffans, taking the goal difference to just one. But India held their nerves to finish the match in their favour.

India will next take on Britain in their fifth match on October 12.

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