Melbourne [Australia], Nov.23 : The Indian men's hockey team suffered a 2-3 defeat against Australia, despite Rupinder Pal Singh scoring twice in the opening game of the Four Nations Invitational Tournament here on Wednesday.
The Indian side began positively against top-ranked Australia, showing positive intent and energy in the first quarter as they looked to better their record against their opponents.
However, the first fifteen minutes ended with a 0-0 score line as both teams kept searching for goal-scoring opportunities.
Indian youngster Affan Yousuf's attacking approach almost paid dividends early on had it not been for a solid defense from the Kookaburras.
A high-voltage encounter in the offing, India, who had recently won the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia, managed to gain three successive penalty corners in the second quarter of the match.
The team's bankable dragflicker, Rupinder Pal Singh missed out on the first two opportunities, but did not disappoint the third time around as his powerful and precise hit went past Australian goalkeeper Tristan Clemons.
India scored their first goal in the 21st minute to take the lead. However, the drama intensified as Jeremy Hayward scored the equaliser three minutes later, using his dragflicking skills to beat a diving Akash Chikte.
At halftime, the game was beautifully poised at 1-1. India had a tough time in the third quarter as the Australians scored two more goals to take the lead to 3-1.
Hayward scored his second penalty goal in the 36th minute and Trent Mitton scored his team's third off a difficult angle in the 43rd minute.
However, the men in blue did not give up easily as they entered the final quarter. Talwinder Singh lifted the spirits in the camp with a superb counter-attacking approach initially and then it was Akash Chikte's miraculous save of a powerful hit from Dylan Wotherspoon.
Rupinder Pal Singh brought India back in the game with a penalty corner goal in the 53rd minute as India headed into the tense last minutes of the match.
However, the Australians denied India any further chance to score an equaliser as the visitors conceded a 2-3 defeat.
India will next lock horns against Malaysia on November 24..