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Hockey 9s: Team India out of final, lose 1-4 to Oz

Perth: The Indian men`s hockey team`s hopes of reaching the final went up in smoke after Australia handed it a 4-1 drubbing in their last league match of the Lanco International Super Series 9s here today. India will now face Pakistan for the bronze medal tomorrow.

By winning all its matches, Australia entered the finals majestically and will battle it out against New Zealand for the top honours tomorrow.

India needed a win today to make it to the final but fell short in all departments of the game. Australia set the pace early on and went on a scoring spree, while India could reply only once through Sardar Singh.
With just a draw and two loses India finished last in the four-nation event, while with two draws Pakistan came third.

Earlier, Pakistan too failed in its endeavour to make it to the final. It needed an outright win, but the Kiwis denied the side holding it to a 1-1 draw. Pakistan`s sixth-minute goal by Shafqat Rasool was cancelled out six minutes later by Joel Baker. The draw was enough for the Kiwis, who thrashed India on the opening day, to make the cut.

India were left to do the chasing act quite early in the match when twice FIH Player of the year Jamie Dwyer put his side ahead in the second minute itself leaving Indian goalie PR Sreejesh flummoxed. Australia widened the gap four minutes later, through Russell Ford.

The Indians got their act together to some extent after conceding the lead. Medio-turned-attacker Sardar reduced the margin after Gurbaj Singh set him up. Sardar sent in a grounder that whistled past the legs of rival goalie Tristan Clemons.

The faster Australians did not let the momentum slip in the second half even as India played sluggish in this phase of the match. Desmond Abbott all but ended India`s chances with an immaculate push towards the goal and then a minute from close, Dwyer scored his second goal.

PR Sreejesh, who guarded the cage for the entire match, did well in the first half with neat clearances but he was let down by forwards who did not score. Young star Yuvraj Walmiki twice missed out on sitters, both supplied by the hard-working Danish Mujtaba.

"There was some misunderstanding in the our defence line today, and it proved costly," said Sreejesh.
Indian forward Tushar Khandekar lamented missing many chances.

"We missed some, and it happens in such a fast game. We played a good first half, and it was not so in the second," he said. Regarding tomorrow`s match against Pakistan, Tushar was confident India will put up a good show. "We could not score as many goals we would have liked to against Pakistan yesterday, I hope we will work hard to improve things for tomorrow," he said.

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