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India lose again to Australia, trail hockey Test series 0-2

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Perth, April 7: The Indian men’s hockey team dished out a much-improved performance as compared to its previous game but it still lost 2-4 to Australia in the second Test of the five-match series here on Sunday.
After the 1-5 drubbing they received on Saturday, the Indians were able to play in equal terms against their formidable opponents in the first and second quarters of the match.
In fact, India were 2-1 ahead at half time, but some sloppy defending in the third quarter cost them dearly as the hosts pumped in three goals to register their second straight win.
Jeremy Hayward (6th and 34th minutes) converted two penalty corners, while Jacob Anderson (42nd) and Nathan Ephraums (45th) found the net from field efforts for Australia.
India’s both goals came off penalty corner conversions by Jugraj Singh (9th) and skipper Harmanpreet Singh (30th).
The Indians started on the front foot in the game with vice-captain Hardik Singh heavily involved in the middle field.
But Australia took the lead from their first penalty corner in the sixth minute through Hayward, who sounded the board with a powerful low drag-flick to the right of Indian goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, who started the match under the bar in place of veteran PR Sreejesh.
The Indians slowly got their footing into the match and started to put pressure on the Australian defence and in the process secured three consecutive penalty corners.
While the first two penalty corners went abegging, Jugraj drew parity for the visitors in the ninth minute with a fierce flick to the left top corner of the Australian goal.
Just 41 seconds from half-time, India secured a penalty corner and skipper Harmanpreet made no mistake to score his 180th career goal and hand his side a 2-1 lead.
Trailing by a goal, the Australians came out all guns blazing after the change of ends and pumped in three goals to show their domination over India.
Four minutes into the third quarter, Australia secured a penalty corner and Hayward scored his second of the match to level the scores.
It was yet another lesson for the Indians, who played catch-up hockey and failed to match the Australians for the second consecutive day.
It was relentless pressure from Australia which broke the Indian defence on more than one occasion.
Anderson registered his name in the scoresheet in the 42nd minute, deflecting from a build up by Matt Dawson and Jack Welch, literally catching Indian custodian Pathak off-guard.
Just a few seconds left in the third quarter, Ephraums found himself at the right place at the right time to slap in a deflection from an Indian defender past Pathak from a quick turnover to make it 4-2.
The third Test match of the series, titled Perth International Festival of Hockey, will be played here on April 10.
The series is a part of preparations for this year’s Paris Olympics for both the sides. (PTI)

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