India were pipped by reigning world champions Australia 1-3 via penalty shootout to settle for their maiden silver medal in the Hockey Champions Trophy on Friday.
After the 60 minutes of regulation play remained goalless in the final, Australian goalkeeper Tyler Lovell denied S.K. Uthappa, S.V. Sunil and Surender Kumar in the penalty shootout to drive Australia to their 14th Champions Trophy title — most by any side.
Harmanpreet Singh was the only scorer for India, while for Australia, Aran Zalewski, Daniel Beale, Simon Orchard succeeded. Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh could only deny Trent Mitton.
However, it was India’s best performance in the history of the tournament. India’s previous best performance in the Champions Trophy was a bronze medal in 1982.
India, up against the mighty Australians, put up a strong defensive display and showed good counter-attacking skills.
Mandeep Singh created the first potent chance in the ninth minute as his speedy run on the right caught the Australians off-guard. His shot at goalkeeper Andrew Charter was deflected to Uthappa but the latter employed a lethargic backhand strike to waste it as the Australians were less in numbers in front of the goal.
Australia broke through the Indian defence in the very next minute, earning a penalty corner. But India saw off four back-to-back penalty corners and in their moment of turnover, earned two penalty corners but they did not bear fruit.
Australia mounted the pressure on India but the latter managed to stay strong, thanks to the heroics of central defender V.R. Raghunath. During a penalty corner defence, the ball kissed the legs of Uthappa, India’s final defender behind goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, resulting in a penalty stroke in the 18th minute. But Blake Govers hit it wide, much to the relief in the Indian camp.
India too earned two penalty corners before the half-time but Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter denied V.R. Raghunath.
India upped the ante in the final few minutes of the third quarter with Mandeep Singh in the centre of the action. India launched a quick counter-attack after defending a penalty corner but Charter rushed out and halted Nikkin Thimmaiah.
Later, a byline cross from Mandeep was deflected away by Jeremy Hayward, who then halted Chinglensana Singh’s speedy run.
Changed goalkeeper Tyler Lovell then was tested by a reverse-hand strike from Akashdeep Singh, whose direct shot was padded out of danger.
Both the teams tried their best but they failed to break the deadlock, taking the game to the shootout, where the Australians won and claimed the title for the seventh time in the last 16 years.