In one of its worst performances in recent times, the Indian men's hockey team suffered an embarrassing 0-7 drubbing at the hands of defending champions Australia to settle for a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022 on Monday.
Australia blew away India with their whirlwind speed and relentless attacks, extending their dominance of the CWG stage. Since hockey's introduction at the Games in 1998, Australia has always stood on top of the podium.
This is India's third defeat against Australia in a CWG final, having lost to them in the 2010 and the 2014 editions of the Games. Nathan Ephraums and Tom Wickham scored a brace each while Blake Govers, Jacob Anderson, and Flynn Ogilvie also found the net in the lop-sided contest.
It was a far cry from what was expected in a gold medal clash as a dominant Australia pumped in five goals in the first half to take the game away from India. The other time India suffered such a heavy defeat in CWG was in 2010 edition in New Delhi, where Australia hammered the hosts 8-0.
The Indians looked rusty and clueless as they conceded too much space to the Australians in the mid-field, which allowed the Kookaburras to make inroads. The structure which the Indians are known for was nowhere to be seen. The defence looked shaky, while there was no co-ordination between the midfield and forward-line.
The past problem of miss-passing and trapping returned to haunt the Indians. It allowed Australia to play free-flowing hockey. The Indians made very few circle penetrations and whenever they did, they lacked the final pass or looked out of sorts.
Such was India's struggle that the team could not secure a single penalty corner. Australia secured their three penalty corner inside the first 10 minutes and broke the deadlock from the third through Govers, whose flick went in between India custodian PR Sreejesh's legs.
A minute before the first quarter, Ephramus scored from a counter-attack from the right flank. It was raining goals for Australia with Anderson making it 3-0 in the 22nd minute, scoring of a rebound, tapping in from close range after Sreejesh made the initial save.
India's only shot at the goal came in the 24th minute but Akashdeep Singh's reverse hit was saved by Australian goalie Andrew Charter. Australia added two more goals to their tally in a span of two minutes before half time through Wickham (26th), who deflected in Tim Brand's pass, and Anderson (27th) to take complete control of the match at half-time.
An injury to Manpreet Singh after a collision with an Australian player in the second quarter made life more difficult for the Indians as the skipper didn't take the field in the last two quarters. In the 42nd minute, Ephramus scored his second goal with a neat deflection before Ogilvie added another four minutes later.
Six minutes later, Australia scored another but the goal was disallowed for backstick after India went for the referral.