A bright start by India threatened to provide the shock of the tournament but Australia showed just why they are world champions by turning a 2-0 deficit into a 7-2 victory at the Hero Hockey World League Final in Delhi.
This fourth quarter final started with a big surprise as host nation India went 2-0 ahead in front of a loudly cheering and very enthusiastic crowd in the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. Birenda Lakra (6’) opened the scoring when his shot on goal was deflected by an Australian defender’s stick. Yuvraj (11’) doubled the lead a few minutes later much to the delight of the crowd. “It wasn’t looking so good for us in the first 15 minutes. Of course I was worried; I have seen everything in hockey”, Kookaburra coach Ric Charlesworth said. “We were flattered by the score line today, because India really came for us in the first part of the game.”
India fought hard to keep ahead of the world champions and their resilience paid off up to the 24th minute when Nicholas Budgeon put the Kookaburras on the scoreboard by smashing in a penalty corner.
Before halftime Jason Wilson’s (29’) equaliser came from open play and the crowd saw the Kookaburras eventually turning the score around when Glenn Turner (35’) made it 3-2 finishing a great team move marking his 100th cap with a goal.
The world champions were dominating throughout the second half. First, it was Russell Ford (41’) extending the lead to 4-2. Then Simon Orchard (45’) smashed in a shot from the top of the corner making it 5-2. The 6-2 was brought home by Ford (47’) scoring his second goal of the day. Jacob Whetton’s (65’) 7-2 came five minutes before fulltime.
Speaking after the game, coach to the India team, Terry Walsh, said that his team had not been able to cope with the physicality of Australia. "We physiological make-up of the Indian players needs to develop further. Our players are up against big, strong men and when it is like that fatigue sets in. We began to feel the fatigue after 24 minutes."
Turner, who picked up the Hero Man of the Match award, said: "India started well, but we were able to show resilience and come back at them. We took our chances today, and that is something we need to do against the Netherlands in the semi finals."