Raipur, Nov 22: India failed to hold on to their early lead as they went down 1-2 against Australia in the second hockey Test at the newly-inaugurated Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel International Hockey Stadium, here today.
Coming into the game after a 1-1 draw in the first of the three match series, India went into the lead in the 23rd minute through a Devender Walmiki strike.
But Australia struck back-to-back goals in the last quarter through Jacob Whetton (47th) and Aran Zalewski (48th) to claim a well deserved victory. The Indian defenders and midfielders played good hockey to match the visitors' for most part of the game.
But the strikers were guilty of not carrying off their finishing moves and the hosts also lacked in coming up with the decisive final pass.
The game began with a fierce attack from the world champions, but the Indian goalpost was beautifully manned by PR Sreejesh as he along with the Indian defenders did not allow the Australians to convert any of their attacks.
India though took the lead against the run of play in the second quarter when a counter-attack saw Amir Khan make a run down the left before picking out Walmiki inside the penalty circle. Walmiki made no mistake with a one-touch finish.
The first half there after witnessed heavy attacks from both sides but none of the teams could convert anything to their favour, and the half came to an end with the score at 1-0 to India's favour.
The second half began as expected with Australia pressing very hard to score but the Indian defenders displayed their class restricting the visitors from scoring.
The Indians defended the game beautifully till the 46th minute, but one error followed by another in the 47th and 48th minute, which led to two successive goals from Chris Ciriello and Aran Zalewski in Australia's favour.
This turned around the match and saw the visitors leading 2-1. India tried hard to come back into the game there after but the world champions guarded their side way too well.
The frustration of the Indian players came to the fore when Manpreet Singh was shown a yellow card and handed a five minute penalty for a rough tackle.
"We played a good game, but a small error in the last quarter cost us dearly. We are up against the best team in the world and we only take back learnings from this match. We have been attacking well, but our defence needs some attention and hopefully tomorrow we should put up a better show," said Director High Performance and Chief Coach Indian Men Team, Roelant Oltmans.
The series has been oraganised as a preparation for both the teams ahead of Hero Hockey World League Finals to be held in Raipur from November 27 to December 6.