– Nikkin Thimmaiah’s hat trick helped India win
Ipoh (Malaysia), 11 April 2015: Post winning the previous match against Canada, the confident Indian team beat the defending champions Australia 4-2 at the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2015 being played at Ipoh, Malaysia. Previously, India beat Australia 4-3 in the 19th Sultan of Azlan Shah Cup 2010 and also, defeated them in Hockey Australia Men’s Challenge 2003 with an excellent score 5-3.
India started the game on a high and scored the initial breakthrough in the very first minute through VR Raghunath who successfully converted the penalty corner and took the lead at 1-0. India kept on its attacking spree as Sardar Singh went on attack quickly trying to reach the net but the ball got cleared by the Aussies defenders. Just a minute before the quarter came to an end, Australia got an equalizer through Beale Daniel who easily slapped the ball into the nets in the 14th minute leaving the scores 1-1 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter of the game, India men were looking to pierce the defence of the Australia. Nikkin Thimmaiah finally managed to break the defence of the opponents and touched the nets to score the second goal for India in the 23rd minute through a field effort. Australia was awarded with a penalty corner but the Indian counter- attacks did not allow them to capitalize it. Unable to add any more goals to their account in the first half, Australia was trailing by a goal with a score of 2-1 against India.
After a much entertaining first half, the third quarter went in full throttle where India continued to build pressure on the Australian men. Gurbaj Singh passed the ball to Manpreet Singh on the right flank and a fine touch was given by Nikkin Thimmaiah who smacked the ball into the crossbar in the 32nd minute and scored the third goal for his team. Australia despite of its continuous efforts to score, failed to score any goal and the third quarter ended with the Indian side leading against Australia 3-1.
The fourth and the last quarter started with the Indian team still maintaining a healthy lead of 3-1. India faced a strong challenge at few times when Australians tried to enter the Indian D but the defence at the Indian side stood tall as they restricted the opponents from scoring. While the Indian men displayed a superior game so far, Australia’s Matt Gohdes in all hopes to reduce the margin to 4-2, surged ahead and notched a field goal in the 53rd minute.It was Nkkin Thimmaiah again who added the third goal to his personal tally in the last minute of the game (60 minute)and flicked the ball inside the net to score a hat trick for his team. With this, India emerged as the winners of the match declaring a convincing win against Australia 4-2.