India Men’s Hockey team lost a closely fought match against defending champions Australia 3-4 in their first match of the two-leg FIH Pro League encounter at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on Friday. Also Read - Need to Work on Converting Chances Into Goals Ahead of Olympics: Lalit Upadhyay

Australia opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the match, thanks to Dylan Wotherspoon who found the back of the net before Tom Wickham doubled the lead in the 18th-minute to give the visitors early initiative. Also Read - On-Field Communication The Key For India: Defender Nisha

The hosts got one back in the 36th-minute when Raj Kumar Pal scored. Also Read - COVID Effect: FIH Postpones Pro League Matches

Five minutes after India scored and raised hopes of a comeback, Australia scored two in two minutes to take a three-point lead and it seemed it was all over for India.

In the final quarter, Raj Kumar Pal gave India hopes again as he scored to close in on the deficit. He scored in the 47th-minute.

Minutes laterRupinder Pal Singh scored in the 52nd-minute to make it 3-4 and give the match a tense finish.

One also has to credit goalkeeper Sreejesh for making some phenomenal saves to keep India in the game.

But the hosts were made to toil hard by the world no.2 Australia before eventually losing the match in a close encounter.

With the win, second-ranked Australia moved up to the third position in the standings with nine points from five games, while India are a rung behind with eight points from as many matches.

Australia was always the superior team on the day as they passed well and scored when needed.

India and Australia will square off in the second match here on Saturday.