India's junior men's hockey team started off their 8-Nations U-21 Invitational campaign with a 4-0 loss to Australia in their Group B encounter here Monday. The first period was a tightly fought one with both teams matching each other toe to toe. Despite both creating a host of half chances, a few fell clear and they went into the break locked in a stalemate.
The second quarter followed a pattern where India were happy to play on the counter, and pressed Australia regularly. In a somewhat ill-tempered quarter, Australia's Dylan Martin was awarded the first green card of the game, giving India a man advantage. The team though couldn't make it count, and soon had a man of their own penalised, Maninder Singh shown a green card for an illegal intervention on the goal line. From the ensuing penalty stroke, Australia took the lead, Nathan Ephraums scoring to give them the lead in the 25th minute. They took the single goal lead into half time.
Despite a fight back by India in the period after halftime, Australia consolidated the lead halfway through the third quarter with Ephraums scoring in the 44th with another penalty stroke to double the lead. India were forced to throw everything forward in the final quarter, and they did so with aggression. The team won a PC within the opening minutes of the quarter but Cade Banditt in the Australian goal, parried to keep India at bay. With India forced into attack, Australia exploited the spaces, Liam Hart (53') and Ehren Hazell (60') scoring to ensure their victory.
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