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India settle for silver in Champions Trophy

India were pipped by reigning world champions Australia 1-3 via penalty shoot-out to settle for their maiden silver medal in the Hockey Champions Trophy here on Friday.

After the 60 minutes of regulation play remained goalless in the final, Australian goalkeeper Tyler Lovell denied S.K. Uthappa, S.V. Sunil and Surender Kumar in the penalty shoot-out to drive Australia to their 14th Champions Trophy title — most by any side.

Harmanpreet Singh was the only scorer for India, while for Australia, Aran Zalewski, Daniel Beale, Simon Orchard succeeded. Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh could only deny Trent Mitton.

India, up against the mighty Australians, put up a strong defensive display and showed good counter-attacking skills.

Mandeep Singh created the first potent chance in the ninth minute as his speedy run on the right caught the Australians off-guard. His shot at goalkeeper Andrew Charter was deflected to Uthappa but the latter employed a lethargic back-hand strike to waste it as the Australians were less in numbers in front of the goal.

Australia broke through the Indian defence in the very next minute, earning a penalty corner. But India saw off four back-to-back penalty corners and in their moment of turnover, earned two penalty corners but they did not bear fruit.

Australia mounted the pressure on India but the latter managed to stay strong, thanks to the heroics of central defender V.R. Raghunath. During a penalty corner defence, the ball kissed the legs of Uthappa, India’s final defender behind goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, resulting in a penalty stroke in the 18th minute. But Blake Govers hit it wide, much to the relief in the Indian camp.

India too earned two penalty corners before the half-time but Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter denied V.R. Raghunath.

India upped the ante in the final few minutes of the third quarter with Mandeep Singh in the centre of the action. India launched a quick counter-attack after defending a penalty corner but Charter rushed out and halted Nikkin Thimmaiah.

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