India put up a valiant fight before going down 2-4 against world champions and title holders Australia in their third group match of the men`s Hockey competition at the 20th Commonwealth Games, here on Tuesday.
Living upto their reputation, Australia build on a two-goal burst in the space of two minutes and were set to go into the breather with a 3-0 cushion before India pulled one back at the fag end of the first half.
India managed to re-group themselves and put up a stronger defence in the second half, where they conceded one and scored one at the National Hockey Centre here.
Chris Ciriello (14th minute, 49th), Simon Orchard (16th) and Jacob Whetton (26th) were the goal scorers for Australia, while Rupinder Singh (34th) and Ramandeep Singh (48th) sounded the board for India.
After two easy victories, it was supposed to be a real test for the Indian team and coach Terry Walsh`s boys didn`t fare too badly against the Kookaburras, who had thrashed them 0-8 at Delhi four years ago.
India started on a positive note as they invaded the rival semicircle but some clever defending from Australia kept them at bay.
Australia, however, didn`t take long to assert their supremacy as the 2010 Champions scored twice within a space of two minutes to push India on the backfoot.
Ciriello drew the first blood when he converted their second penalty corner while a minute later Orchard scored a field goal when he capitalised on a defensive lapse to slot home from close range.
India struggled to gain possession of the ball after that as Australia kept their rival defenders busy.
In the 26th minute, Whetton made good use of a defensive lapse by Rupinder outside the semicircle as he sent the ball to the left of the post, beating P R Shreejesh on the way as Australia led 3-0.
Two minutes from the breather, India earned a penalty corner and Rupinder redeemed himself when he sent one hovering over the defenders to help India go into the break with a 1-3 deficit.
India showed a lot of purpose in second half as they created opportunities but failed to execute them in time.
In the 48th minute, an opportunist Ramandeep brushed off two defenders and dived in a shot to find the inside of the post as India reduced the difference to 2-3.
However, Australia didn`t waste any time as one minute later, Ciriello scored with a penalty stroke, finding the left of the goalpost.
Shreejesh came up with some good saves as he kept the Australians away, staving off their challenge at least in four penalty corners.
India will next take on South Africa on July 31st.