FIH Hockey Pro League action continued from the Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela as India took on Australia in the first encounter between the two sides in the 2022/23 season. Harmanpreet Singh was the hero for the home team scoring thrice as India edged past the visitors in a 9-goal thriller that went down to the wire. 

India vs Australia 5-4

India had the best early chance as an interception in the midfield by Harmanpreet set Dilpreet free and his pass found Gurjant free on the right side of the circle but his shot went just wide. Australia scored almost instantly in response as Zalewski found Josh Beltz in the left side of the Indian circle and his cross was poked into the goal by Manpreet as he tried to make an interception. India pulled level towards the end of the quarter as Harmanpreet Singh dispatched a powerful penalty corner low to the keeper’s right, just as he had done against Germany. With 6 seconds left in the opening quarter Harmanpreet gave India the lead through another penalty corner, won by great work on the left by Abhishek, who was brought down by Ockenden, with the Australian also receiving a yellow card for his tackle.

India doubled their lead early in the second quarter as an interception by Harmanpreet sent India out on a counter attack and a pass towards the goal by Karthi saw Sukhjeet brought down from the back by Hayden Beltz. It was Jugraj who stepped up to take it and dispatched it with ease. Sukhjeet and Karthi combined to score India’s fourth as Sukhjeet long diagonal pass from the right found Karthi on the top of the circle, and he faked reverse to shake his marker, stepped into the circle and thundered an unstoppable shot into the top right corner of the goal. 

Josh Beltz had the best early chance in the second half as he broke into the Indian circle from the top and took on a shot on reverse but Pawan was up to the task and made the save to preserve India’s 3-goal lead. Australia found their second goal of the game as James Collins broke in from the right and his pass across the face of the goal evaded multiple Indian sticks and found Ky Willott on the far post for an easy tap in. 

Australia won an early penalty corner in the final quarter but Anand Gupte put his low drag flick wide to the right. On the other end Gupte conceded a penalty corner as a long ball to Gurjant at the top of the circle was deflected by the Indian forward into the foot of the Australian defender, but India’s variation routine amounted to nothing. Australia won a penalty corner midway through the final quarter as a push in the back by Manpreet Singh earned him a yellow card and gave Australia a short corner that they converted through Ben Staines who pounced on the rebound after Pawan had made the initial save. Harmanpreet completed his hat-trick going low to the right of the keeper once again with a thundering drag flick that gave Rennie no chance. Australia scored the ninth goal of the game as Howard pounced on a rebound from another penalty corner save by Pawan and put the ball away to the right side of the goal. Australia kept the pressure up but couldn’t find an equaliser as India won the 9-goal thriller 5-4.

Harmanpreet Singh was awarded player of the match and said: “It’s very good to score and for the team to win. Really happy with the team’s performance, we decided to commit to our plan for the entire 60 minutes and it paid off.”

FIH Pro League – 12 March 2023

Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, Rourkela (IND)

Result: Men’s Match 27

India 5-4 Australia 

Player of the Game: Harmanpreet Singh (IND)

Umpires: Ahmed Elsayed (EGY), David Tomlinson (NZL), Rawi Anbananthan (MAS-video)