Thursday, June 20, 2024
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India slump in Champions Trophy semifinal

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Melbourne: An injury-hit India proved no match against defending champions Australia as they lost 0-3 in a lop-sided semifinal clash on Saturday and will now have to fight it out for a bronze in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament.

Australia scored through captain Jamie Dwyer (fifth and 18th minutes) and Kieran Govers (42nd) after enjoying territorial domination against the Indians, who were often forced to fall back and defend against the rampant rival strikers.

Australia stayed on course for their fifth successive title, setting up a final against Olympic silver medallists Netherlands, who outplayed Pakistan 5-2 in the other semifinal.

India’s Cinderella run came to an end, but they stay in contention for their first Champions Trophy medal in three decades. India will take on Pakistan, in a sub-continental clash on Sunday for the bronze medal.

India’s only Champions Trophy medal, a bronze, came in 1982. Pakistan edged past India to claim bronze medals for three years from 2002-2004.

Dwyer opened the scoring in the fifth minute, capitalising on a rebound during Australia’s second penalty, after a drag-flick was blocked by a defender.

The Aussies increased the lead in the 18th minute by converting a penalty stroke, which was awarded when a foul was committed on Dwyer in a scoring position.

Dwyer had already taken two shies. The first one was blocked by goalkeeper TR Potunuri and the second shot rebounded back into play off post.

India opened up to mount a few raids midway through the first session, but did not cause much trouble to the Australian defence.

Despite the score line, India’s coach Michael Nobbs praised his defenders for playing a fine game.

“The defence played another fine game today, and that too against opponents who pressed extremely hard,” said Nobbs, acknowledging that India were pushed back by the dominant Australians.

Nobbs said the Indian team was looking forward to give their best in the bronze medal encounter against Pakistan.

“We’re hoping to win the bronze tomorrow. It will be a good game between two Asian hockey rivals,” said Nobbs, who felt the Pakistan team too had improved after the Olympics.

“The bronze medal match should be a classic encounter,” he added. (PTI)

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