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Superb Sreejesh fails to save India from 1-2 defeat against Aussies

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PERTH, April 10: Veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh’s heroics went in vain as India squandered a goal lead to go down 1-2 against Australia in the third men’s hockey Test to hand the home team an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series here on Wednesday.
The Indians, who lost 1-5 and 2-4 in the first two Tests, produced a much-better show on Wednesday with the defensive unit leading from the front.
It was a classic battle between the ever-attacking Australians against the Indian defence, which the latter narrowly lost eventually.
India took the lead through Jugraj Singh’s penalty corner conversion in the 41st minute, but Jeremy Hayward (44th and 49th) dashed the visitors’ hopes by scoring a brace to hand Australia their third win on the trot.
India played cohesively and with a lot more intensity to frustrate the Kookaburras, who secured as many as six penalty corners in the opening quarter.
But failed to get past the resolute defence of the visitors.
Credit must go to both Indian goalkeepers – Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak – for their brilliant display in the first half.
The Indians moved the ball well in the first quarter and they too earned a penalty corner but skipper Harmanpreet Singh’s effort was saved by the Australian goalie.
Australia changed the tempo of the game in the second quarter and played fast-paced, attacking hockey to put pressure on the Indian defence, which produced a rock solid performance.
After Sreejesh, it was Pathak’s turn to show his heroics.
He first denied Australia skipper Aran Zalewski with a save off his chest and then came out of his line to keep out Tim Brand.
Australia continued to play high-press after the change of ends and secured another set piece soon but Joel Rintala’s flick was off target.
India took the lead against the run of play from their second penalty corner through Jugraj’s lightening flick.
Jolted by the goal, Australia launched fierce attacks and secured two more penalty corners but they could not beat Sreejesh.
The Indian who was magnificent under the bar, pulling off saves after saves.
A rare defensive lapse from Amit Rohidas finally helped Australia to bounce back.
Rohidas miss-trapped a ball inside the circle and conceded a penalty stroke for blocking an Australian striker. Hayward stepped up to score Australia’s equaliser.
The Australians secured two more penalty corners in the final quarter and from the second chance, Hayward finally broke Sreejesh’s defence with a powerful flick.
Eight minutes from the hooter, Lalit Upadhayay’s powerful hit from the top of the circle was kept out by the Australian goalkeeper.
Australia then secured their 12th penalty corner but failed to increase their lead from the chance.
India pulled out Sreejesh with two minutes left in the match for an extra field player.
However, the move did not yield any positive result.
The fourth Test of the series will be played here on Friday. (PTI)

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