Perth: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team started their Australia Tour 2019 with a warm-up match which saw them produce a disciplined 2-0 win over the WA Thundersticks here at the Perth Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.
Goals from Birendra Lakra (23′) and Harmanpreet Singh (50′) secured the win for the visitors in their opening match of the tour where they also play the Australian Men’s Hockey team on May 15 and May 17.
The match saw both the teams play fluent hockey inside the first quarter which saw them create a few opportunities. First, it was India’s debutant Jaskaran Singh who shot at goal in the 5th minute, but could not keep it on target, while the home team also tried their best to penetrate India’s defence, but were well kept out by a resilient defending by India’s Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh. India’s experienced forward Akashdeep Singh also had a shot at goal towards the end of the first quarter, but WA Thundersticks’ Goalkeeper Ben Rennie made a fine save to deny the Indian.
India started dominating proceedings in the second quarter as Captain Manpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh took turns to shoot at the home team’s goal but forced good saves by their Goalkeeper. India’s dominance in possession and patient build-up play saw them create another opportunity in the 23rd minute, which saw Defender Birendra Lakra score a field goal through a delightful finish to give his team a 1-0 lead. After conceding, WA Thundersticks tried to make a comeback in the match but India’s defence again proved to be too strong for the home side. India’s efforts in the closing stages of the second quarter saw them win a Penalty Corner, but Rennie made a diving save to deny the visitors and keep the score at 1-0 at half-time.
A well-matched third quarter between the two sides kept the defenders of both the teams on their toes. First, it was WA Thundersticks who looked threatening through a circle entry, but India looked to catch the home side out on the counter led by Gursahibjit Singh. The 40th minute saw Birendra Lakra in the thick of the action again as he found Sumit on the edge of the circle, who showed a burst of pace and made a circle entry towards the right side but could not produce a final pass. Mandeep Singh also found himself in a similar position two minutes later, but Thundersticks defended well to see out the third quarter.
The last quarter started well for the Indian team as they pushed for a second goal, which finally came through a Penalty Corner in the 50th minute. Harmanpreet Singh took a well-crafted drag-flick to put the ball into the back of the net and extend his team’s lead to two goals with 10 minutes remaining. The away side looked more threatening in the next few minutes but Thundersticks also tried to counter. In the 57th minute, the home side were awarded back-to-back Penalty Corners but India’s defence made sure that they saw out a 2-0 win to start their tour on a high.
The Indian Men’s Hockey team will play their next match of Australia Tour 2019 against Australia ‘A’ on 10th May 2019 at 07:30hrs IST.