Hayward scores twice as Australia beat India to take 2-0 lead in Test series

The Indian men’s hockey team improved significantly in the second game of their five-game Test series against Australia in Perth on Sunday. Still, they could not overcome the hosts, who scored three goals in the third quarter to win 4-2. Jugraj Singh and Harmanpreet Singh scored India’s two goals, both from penalty corners, but the forward line was underwhelming as Australia handed India their second consecutive defeat.

Men in Blue moved the ball efficiently and had good circle entries, but it was the final goal-scoring shot that cost them. They hit the crossbar once but failed to touch the ball on other occasions. Coach Craig Fulton noted before the event that India’s finishing was a key point, and it is something the squad will have to work hard on if they are to achieve better results in future matches. Meanwhile, for Australia, who replaced India in the fourth spot in the FIH world rankings after Saturday’s win, Jeremy Hayward netted a brace while Jacob Anderson and Nathan Ephraums scored one goal each.

Earlier, with Hardik Singh back in the lineup, the team appeared controlled and played as a cohesive one in the first half, but Australia took the lead when Hayward converted a penalty corner in the sixth minute. It was in the lower left corner, and Krishan Bahadur Pathak’s effort wasn’t enough.

It appeared that Australia would once again dominate the show after winning another PC within minutes of gaining the lead, but India had other intentions this time. They gained their first PC from an aerial ball, and while Amit Rohidas failed to score on the first two attempts, Jugraj converted the third retake in the ninth minute to help the visitors tie.

Despite conceding, Australia maintained pressure on India’s defense, which was up to the challenge, unlike in the first game. They defended in numbers throughout the second quarter, preventing the Australians from finding any open space. And just when it appeared that India had overcome the rough phase, they took the lead in the final seconds of the second quarter.

It was their second penalty of the match, and Harmanpreet converted to make it 2-1 for India. As the half-time whistle blew, it appeared like the goal would give India an advantage in the second half, but that was not to be. Australia equalized four minutes into the third quarter when Hayward converted another PC. Pathak yielded once more, and his efforts had left him frustrated. Anderson and Ephraums then scored in the 42nd and 45th minutes, as India’s resilience faded.