Johor Bahru (Malaysia), The Indian Junior men’s hockey team sealed their berth in the final of the 9th Sultan of Johor Cup after an emphatic 5-1 victory against Australia, here at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium on Wednesday. The clinical performance saw goals from Shilanand Lakra (26′, 29′), Dilpreet Singh (44′), Gursahibjit Singh (48′) and Mandeep Mor (50′).
India had a first sight of goal in the opening minute courtesy of an Australian mistake. A misjudgement off an aerial ball meant Gursahibjit was clear on goal in the circle. Robert Maclennan was quick to come off his line though and block the angles, before clearing the ball to safety.
For the rest of the quarter, both teams looked for control in midfield with the Aussies earning the first penalty corner of the game in the eight minute. Early in the second quarter, Prashant Chauhan was called into action. Off a swift attack, Michael Francis’ shot was deflected by Sam McCulloch towards goal.
Chauhan was alive to the anger though, pulling off a reflex save to keep the scores level. India earned its first penalty corner of the game minutes later, but Gursahibjit dragged his attempt wide.
India had the lead through Lakra in the 26th minute. The move was kicked off from a counter, Dilpreet Singh’s inch-perfect pass unlocking the entire Aussie defence. The ball fell to Lakra in the circle, who had time to go around a charging Maclennan to score and give India the lead.
Right at the end of the quarter, Australia almost hit back, but Chauhan saved superbly to keep his team in the lead. Off a penalty corner, India launched a counter and it was the Dilpreet-Lakra combination again that caused havoc in the Australian defence, the latter tapping one to double India’s tally. India went into half time leading 2-0.
Despite being two goals up, India didn’t take its foot off the pedal in the third quarter.Shilanand Lakra, Sudeep Chirmako and Uttam Singh applied the pressure, forcing saves off Australia’s substitute goalkeeper Christian Starkie.
In the 44th minute, Dilpreet Singh had his reward for his brilliance through the game. This time the pass came from Gursahibjit Singh, finding Dilpreet at the base of the circle. Dilpreet turned, swerved and unleashed a superb reverse hit into the far corner to give India a 3-0 lead.
India earned a third PC at the start of the third quarter, and Sanjay’s drag flick was deflected by Gursahibjit to extend India’s lead. Mandeep Mor added more gloss to the scoreline with a superb drag flick in the 50th minute. Aaron Knight scored a consolation in the 57th minute for Australia as India wrapped up a 5-1 victory. India will face Great Britain in its final round robin league-stage match on Friday.