Harmanpreet, who had a terrible outing during the quadrennial event, was completely back in his element as he scored all three goals from the penalty corners, each of them better than the last one. His first two came in the first quarter while he completed his hat-trick in the fourth quarter and jumped into the air as the packed stadium celebrated with him.
India’s other two goals were scored by Jugraj Singh and Selvam Karthi in the second quarter.
Harmanpreet Singh is the Player of the Match for scoring a hattrick of penalty corners against Australia.🇮🇳IND 5-… https://t.co/kGeyUOpeOk
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) 1678636600000
Despite India’s win, credit should be given to Australia, who, despite being such a young team, took the hosts the distance. Not only did they open the scoring to put India on the backfoot early on, but they also scored three goals towards the end and almost took the game into the shootouts.
While Ky Willott scored in the 43rd, Ben Staines and Aran Zalewski sounded the board in the 53rd and 57th minutes respectively, both coming from PCs. They could have scored even more considering they won a total of five PCs in the last quarter but Pawan alongwith the defenders did a good job to restrict the rest.
Meanwhile, both Vishnukant Singh and Manjeet took the field on Sunday as India rested Sumit and Rajkumar Pal. India will now be facing off against Germany on Monday while Australia will get a break before playing two consecutive matches on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Earlier, after Australia took the early lead, they controlled the game well and were even able to defend four PCs. But as the first quarter was coming to an end India won their fifth PC and things changed abruptly.
India triumphs in a nail-biting 9-goal thriller versus Australia in the mini tournament of FIH Pro League 2022-23.… https://t.co/ypHoak45gV
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) 1678636432000
Although Harmanpreet was unable to score from the first four, there was no stopping the captain this time around as he smashed the ball into the bottom-right corner in the 14th minute. A minute later, India won another PC and Harman got his name on the scoresheet again and he was beyond overjoyed.
If scoring against Germany was a big relief for him, the two back-to-back strikes really got him pumped and he celebrated wildly.
The two goals saw the momentum swing in India’s way and three minutes into the second quarter they won a penalty stroke and Jugraj made it 3-1 for the hosts. Even as Australia tried to keep India under wraps, Karthi then made it 4-1 in the 28th minute with a brilliant strike from the edge of the D.
Harmanpreet played a high ball to Sukhjeet Singh standing near the right flank and he in turn played a long diagonal through pass to Karthi, who dodged a defender before hitting a powerful shot into the top-right corner of the net from the left.
After that, things got really interesting in the last 20 minutes as Australia scored two quick goals to reduce the deficit to just one goal. But Harmanpreet scored his third of the match in the 56th minute to make it 5-3 for India. However, Australia scored again a minute later and then went all out in search of the fifth.
They even won a PC with 35 seconds on the clock, but India did well to hold on for a win in the end.