ADELAIDE: India made a promising start by opening the account but its defence fell apart later as the team lost the fourth hockey Test 1-5 to Australia here on Saturday and conceded an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
The final match of the series will be played on Sunday. India had won the third match after losing the first two contests. On Saturday, comeback man Dilpreet Singh (25th minute) struck early to give India the lead after a resolute defensive display by Harmanpreet Singh and Co. in a goalless first quarter.
But, India’s defence crumbled towards the end of the second quarter, with Jeremy Hayward (29th) and Jake Whetton (30th) scoring in the space of 50 seconds. Tom Wickham (34th) extended the lead for the host, before Hayward completed his brace (41st). Matt Dawson made his way to the scorecard in the 54th minute with a low volley strike that went past India goalkeeper Krishan Pathak.
Pathak, who came in place of the seasoned PR Sreejesh, however, made some creditable saves to save India from more humiliation.
It seemed India could level the series when Dilpreet struck a brilliant goal to hand the visitor the lead against the run of play. From the top of the striking circle, Dilpreet quickly pierced the defence and made a sharp turn before smashing the ball into the bottom corner.
But, India’s lead lasted for less than five minutes with ‘Player of the match’ Hayward bringing up the equaliser with a superbly placed drag-flick. From being 0-1 down, the World No.1 Australia team went 2-1 up in the blink of an eye when Whetton struck off a Jack Welch assist, showing his poaching skill.
A Wickham shot looked to have been saved by Sreejesh, but the ball popped up and went into the net to add to India’s misery. There was no looking back for Australia as it took a commanding 4-1 lead going into the final quarter with Hayward completing his brace.
The final match of the series will be played on Sunday. India had won the third match after losing the first two contests