Hockey: Indian women lose 2-4 to Australia in first Test

Adelaide, May 18:  The Indian women’s hockey team started its tour of Australia on a disappointing note, losing 2-4 against the hosts in the first Test of the three-match series at the Mate Stadium here on Thursday.

After a barren first quarter, world no.3 Australia scored a couple of goals within a span of six minutes through strikes from debutant Aisling Utri (21st minute) and Maddy Fitzpatrick (27th).

The Hockeyroos scored two more quick goals in the third quarter which came from the sticks of Alice Arnott (32nd) and Courtney Schonell (35th).

World no.8 India’s goal scorers were Sangita Kumari (29th) and Sharmila Devi (40th).

The second match of the series will be played at the same venue on Saturday. India will also play two matches against Australia ‘A’ during the tour, which kick-started their preparation for the Hanzgou Asian Games.

The home team started on an attacking note, earning back-to-back penalty corners early on but on both occasions, India skipper and goalkeeper Savita came to the visitors’ rescue.

India too earned a penalty corner soon but wasted the chance due to poor injection.

The tourists got another set piece minutes later but the drag-flick went wide as the first quarter ended goalless.

Australia started the second quarter in the same pace and created two bright chances in quick time but on both occasion failed to breach Savita.

But Savita’s citadel was finally breached in the 21st minute when Utri’s perfect deflection from a cross beat the Indian custodian.

Australia kept up the tempo and were equally aided by India’s poor display at the defence. The hosts doubled their lead six minutes later when Fitzpatrick converted a penalty corner.

However a minute from half-time, India pulled a goal back through Sangita, who found herself at the right place to deflect in Nikki Pradhan’s hit from outside the circle.

After the change of ends, it took Australia just two minutes to restore their two goal lead when another debutant Alice deflected skipper Jane Claxton’s pass into the goal.

It was one-way traffic at the start of the third quarter as three minutes later, the hosts extended their lead when Schonell found the back of the Indian net with a reverse hit.

Sharmila reduced the margin to 2-4 for India five minutes later deflected in a penalty corner try.

India replaced Savita with young Bicchu Devi in the goal in the final quarter and the youngster made a double save in the 54th minute to the visitors alive.

Soon India got a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit in the form a penalty corner but Australia goalkeeper Newman Zoe made a brilliant save as Navneet Kaur missed from the spot.  (PTI)