Indian hockey team reach Australian Youth Olympic Festival final

January 15th, 2009 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 15 (IANS) The Indian men’s hockey team trounced Great Britain 6-1 in the second league match of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) to book a final berth in the four-nation tournament here Thursday.The girls team, however, went down 2-3 to Australia for their second successive loss that dashed their hopes of qualifying for the title round.

In the under-21 men’s encounter, skipper Diwakar Ram (7th and 16th minutes), striker Pramod Kumar (38th, 46th), Danish Mujtaba (26th) and Jaykaran (66th) were the scorers for India.

Britain started the proceedings with much vigour but India wrested the initiative and an early goal from Ram opened the floodgates. He handed India the lead with a perfect drag-flick from a short corner.

Britain tried to force their way back into the game with some counter-attacks but India managed to thwart their advances.

British goalkeeper Ian Scanlon blocked several attempts in the first half. Despite Scanlon’s heroics, Ram doubled the lead in the 16th minute.

India had another opportunity to increase the lead in the 25th minute but this time Ram was off target before heavy rains and strong winds hit the ground. The match went on despite the inclement weather and a minute later Mujtaba made it 3-0, netting home a rebound from a penalty corner.

Britain had an opportunity to reduce the deficit in the dying stages of the opening half, but custodian Mrinal Chaubey’s neat work saw India go into the breather 3-0.

Kumar scored two quick goals after the change of ends through rebound hits from short corners to take the game away from their rivals.

Britain pulled one back in the 65th minute through Nick but a minute later India’s Jaykaran completed formalities with a beautifully worked out field goal.

Despite India’s strong showing in the tournament, coach A.K. Bansal said they cannot be complacent in the last league match against Malaysia Saturday.

“The boys played exceedingly well. In both matches they displayed technically sound hockey. We are definitely through to the finals but we would like to finish off the league stage with an all-win record,” Bansal said.

After a rest day Friday, India will take on Malaysia in their last league match Saturday.

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