Indian men's hockey team came close to securing a historic series win against Australia on Wednesday, but the home team dug deep to win the second Test by 4-3 to level the series. India fought bravely but two second-half goals from Jez Hayward set up a thrilling victory for the Kookaburras.
After youngster Affan Yousuf set up a 3-2 win over World No.1 Australia in the first of the two-Test matches, India were pushed to their limits in the second Test at Bendigo, Victoria. India took an early lead when Akashdeep Singh slotted one into the back of the net in the sixth minute. But Trent Mitton hit the equalizer for the hosts when he scored a field goal in the 13th minute. Both the teams were engaged in some end-to-end action following the equalizer, and it was Raghunath who put India ahead with a fine penalty corner strike in the 22nd minute. But the Aussies had a quick reply as Jake Whetty made it 2-2 in the next minute. India took back the lead from the visitors in the 25th minute as captain Raghunath scored another penalty corner to make it 3-2 and maintained the lead by the end of the first half.
Australia equalized once again in the third minute of the third quarter when Jez Hayward made it 3-3 from a penalty corner in 38th minute. Despite India making multiple efforts on the goal, the third quarter ended on level terms at 3-3. In the fourth quarter, Hayward struck again in the 51st minute to give Australia the lead for the first time. The hosts then decided to shut the shop as India went on the offensive. In the final minutes, India went close on a couple of occasions, but the Australian defenders ensured the advantage remained with them to end the match 4-3.
After claiming a bronze medal at the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Melbourne earlier this week, India's 1-1 series draw against Australia is a very commendable result with the team missing regular captain PR Sreejesh along with star strikers SV Sunil and Ramandeep Singh.