India suffered a humiliating 0-4 loss against defending champions Australia in their final group league encounter of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, in The Hague on Monday.
Asserting their strength, Australia built up a four-goal lead in the initial 22 minutes, before the Indian managed to re-group themselves and put up a stronger defence thereby denying the fancied rivals, a chance of scoring any more goals.
Kieran Govers opened the scoring with a field goal in the 27th minute. It was followed by three penalty corner strikers -- two by Chris Ciriello and one by Jeremy Hayward. Australia topped Group A with maximum 15 points from five successive victories.
The Aussies players are on course to have another crack at the title as a present to their coach Ric Charlesworth, for whom this will be the last World Cup as he retires, later this year.
India finished their five pool matches with four points, gained from a victory over Malaysia and a draw with Spain.
India now await the result of the Spain-Malaysia result later on Monday to know whether they finish fourth or fifth in the group. Spain have two points from four matches, while Malaysia have lost all their four games.
A draw or a Malaysian victory will help India finish in the fourth spot in the group, and then play-off for the seventh and eighth spots.
A Spanish victory will relegate India to the fifth spot in the pool, making them play for the ninth and 10th positions.
India managed to mouth a few raids, but the defence also regrouped and put up a stiffer challenge for the rival strikers. Australia on Monday opened the game by pressuring the Indian defence into conceding an early goal.
Two strikers pressured defender VR Raghunath for space on top of the Indian circle, snatched the ball from him to raid the Indian goal in the third minute.
Simon Orchard then dribbled in the circle and sent a cross to Govers to shoot into the goal with the custodian already beaten by the cross.
India first came up to the rival circle in the 10th minute, but move wasted as Chinglensana Singh as his reverse push was misdirected and went out.
Australia then converted three successive penalty corners to take a 4—0 lead at half—time. The penalty corner conversions began with Ciriello placing his drag flick on the first penalty corner to the left of goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
India then twice moved up to the rival circle, but misdirected passes continued to waste the hard work.
At the other end, the second Australian penalty corner was converted by Hayward in the 20th minute after Ciriello’s initial shot had struck onrushing defender Raghunath.
Ciriello was on target two minutes later with a low flick that went through the Indian defenses.
The Indian goal had a narrow escape in the 27th minute when the ball went across the goalmouth twice during a melee.
In the next minute, SV Sunil managed to break into the rival circle from the left flank, but was crowded out. In trying to create space, he pushed Aussie skipper Mark Knowles, who seemed to have got hit on the neck and was carried off the pitch on a stretcher while play was held-up.
Australian player Robert Hammond had to undergo a two-minute suspension after receiving a green card for deliberate obstruction in the midfield.
India’s defence held its ground on three Australian penalty corners in the second session and goalkeeper Sreejesh stepped up to pad away a try from striker Jacob Whetton midway in the second half.
India managed to break into the Australian circle with a sustained attack in the 47th minute, when the ball came to Yuvraj Walmiki, who sent his reverse hit straight to goalkeeper.
India’s best chance to score a goal came in the 60th minute of play, when a sustained attack saw captain Sardar Singh square the ball to Dharamvir Singh on top of the circle.
Dharamvir’s shot was palmed away by custodian Andrew Charter.