Rio de Janeiro: The Indian women’s hockey team was outplayed 1-6 by higher-ranked Australia in its third group stage match as the morale-sapping crunching defeat raised big doubts over qualification for the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games here on Wednesday.
The difference in class and quality between the two teams was clearly on display as World No.3 Australia scored through Kathryn Slattery (fifth minute), Georgina Morgan (ninth), Jane Claxton (35th), Georgina Parker (36th), Jodie Kenny (43rd and 46th).
It was world No.13 India’s second loss in three matches and they are now fifth in the Pool B standings. They will face world No.5 United States (Thursday) and world No.2 Argentina (Saturday).
India found the going tough from the start against Australia, who were determined to open their account following losses to Britain and the US. Australia attacked with regularity and intruded the Indian circle with using both the flanks to the maximum.
Australia got a penalty corner just five minutes into the game and drag-flick even though was blocked by Indian goalkeeper Savita but Slattery whacked the ball home from a tight angle.
India responded early by earning a penalty corner but to no avail.
But Australia again came attacking inside the Indian circle and found their second goal in the ninth minute via a penalty corner.
Even though the second quarter didn’t fetch any goals for the Australians, it was a story of the Indians doing desperate defending.
Australia further raised the level in the third quarter and found couple of goals in the 35th and 36th minutes through field goals from Morgan and Claxton.
There were further troubles for India as one while defending a penalty corner, the ball touched the legs of a defender, who was behind the goalkeeper, resulting in a penalty stroke. Kenny stepped up and successfully blasted past Savita, before the former converted a penalty corner to make it 6-0.
T. Anuradha Devi scored a consolation goal in the 60th minute on a day that gives India coach Neil Hawgood to plenty to think about.