New Delhi: India squandered a two-goal lead to suffer a 2-7 hammering at the hands of world champions Australia and crash out of the Hero Hockey World League Final here on Wednesday.
Much to the surprise of the Australians, India took a two-goal lead in the first 15 minutes of the opening half of the quarterfinal match through Birendra Lakra (6th minute) and Yuvraj Walmiki (11th minute).
But the Australians showed tremendous fighting spirit to score three goals in the opening period through Nicholas Budgeon (24th), Jason Wilson (29th) and Glenn Turner (35th) to go into the break with their nose ahead.
After the changeover, Australia went on rampage as they scored goals at will through Russell Ford (41st, 47th), Simon Orchard (45th) and Jacob Whetton (65th) to teach the hosts a lesson in hockey at floodlit Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
Contrary to the final result, it was india who dominated the early share of exchanges with some sharp moves.
At 10th, they might be languishing eight places below Australia in the world rankings, but the Indians looked a superior side at least in the first 20 minutes of the game.
India made a promising start and came close to scoring in the opening minute of the match through a fine build up from S K Uthappa and Mandeep Singh.
For the second match on the trot, the Indian midfield and forwardline coordinated well to create numerous scoring opportunities and trouble the Australian defence.
In fact, the fancied Kookaburras were caught napping by the pace of India's relentless attacks in the first 20 minutes of the match.
India stunned Australia as early as in the sixth minute when Lakra scored from an acute angle after receiving a pass from Dharamvir Singh.