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Rajinder Column
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Two-goal win satisfying against a very fit side (5/29/2003)
--Rajinder Singh
Perth: We are happy to have started the campaign with a victory. A goal in each half gave us morale boosting 2-0 win over the extremely fit Australia A. Dilip Tirkey scored a penalty corner goal in the 30th minute and Gagan Ajit Singh scored in a field effort ten minutes before the hooter.

I am extremely satisfied with the result on two counts. First, the field was too fast and we adjusted quickly to post a fluent victory against the home team. This has increased the confidence level of my boys. I think our practice match against the Western Australian team, which we won 2-1 on Tuesday, helped us to settle down straightaway.

Then, the Australia A team played far better than normal second string teams would. They are as good as senior teams in terms of experience and fitness. The exacting and highly competitive Australian Hockey League, which came to an end recently, seemed to have provided them the level of fitness that is required at this high level. Five senior players of repute are in the ‘A’ side.

We were bit unfortunate insofar as penalty corner conversions were concerned. In the second minute, Jugraj Singh’s flick hit the post and spurned away. It was very close. His another effort was well saved by the Australian goal-keeper. The new rule, by which the mandatory stopping of pushed ball was done away with, did not give us any jitters. We did well in this area.

For a change even Gagan Ajit Singh was given a chance to convert a penalty corner. We got six penalty corners and converted just one. We have to work harder in this area.

All players except Baljit Saini and Baljit Dhillon were played. Tusher Khandekar, who made his international debut at the senior level, played like a veteran and so did Sandeep Michael. Dhanraj was played in all for 55 minutes. The idea was to give chance to all and it worked well.

On Thursday, we will be meeting the senior Australian team. This will be a neck to neck fight. The Aussies seniors beat Pakistan 3-0 and must be hungry for more. We would like to beat Australia, for we have to settle a score -- we returned winless against them last year. One thing is sure -- the crowd cannot frighten us. We have lot of support from the local Indians. Our liaison officer SukhdevPandher is taking extra care on this front.

The first match today between Pakistan and Australia did not rise to the level expected of the giants. It looked to me that the Pakistanis were aiming for a draw. The home team’s 3-0 win did not reflect the true proceedings. Australians could have collected couple of more goals had they not missed some sitters.

Pakistan were tentative in the first half and conceded two quick goals. Midfielder Brent Livermore converted a penalty stroke goal within first 15 minutes and defender Troy Elder, Player of the World Cup last year, added one more through what seemed to me a well rehearsed penalty corner drill.

Centre-forward Jaime Dwyer, though not among the goals, was the player who made the Australian dominance look so easy. But Australian’s strength in this match was their strong midfield. Captain Paul Gaudoin (not many know he is an Anglo-Indian) and Brentmore in the midfield stood out with clever tackles, cool headedness and scheming. Goalkeeper Mark Hickman should be credited for saving at least three sure goals.

Pakistan probably need a pivot in the mould of Farhat Khan or Wasim Ahmed. The lot here at Perth woke up bit late in the match and provided semblance of a fought late in the second half.

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