Kookaburras fall to unbeaten India in shootout
The Kookaburras have ended their FIH Pro League tournament in Rourkela with a 4-3 shootout loss to host nation India after scores were locked 2-2 at the end of full time.
Forced to come from behind twice in the contest, Nathan Ephraums scored an impressive double to ensure Australia took two points from the match.
India shot out of the blocks and went ahead after just two minutes when Sagar Prasad Vivek fired home on the reverse after Harmanpreet Singh's initial drag flick was blocked.
Jack Welch and Ky Willott had the Kookaburras' best chances of the opening quarter before Anand Gupte sent a drag flick fizzing just wide of the target and Ephraums hit the post from an acute angle.
Down by the solitary goal at halftime, the Kookaburras looked to up the tempo and increase the speed of their ball movement.
Gupte was denied again from a penalty corner but the Kookaburras drew level in the 37th minute courtesy of an expertly taken penalty stroke from Ephraums.
India restored their advantage two minutes into the final quarter through Sukhjeet Singh.
However Ephraums had other ideas as he connected on a low hard drive by Tim Howard from a penalty corner to superbly knock the ball in to make it 2-2.
Despite having the better of the latter stages the Australians couldn't find a winner like they did against world champions Germany days earlier, leading to the shootout.
Both sides converted three of their five attempts sending it to sudden death where Harmanpreet converted before Welch was kept out by Sreejesh to give India the bonus point and leave the hosts unbeaten in their four matches.
"It was a great experience. We've got a lot of young guys here playing in India for the first time," Kookaburras captain for the series Aran Zalewski said.
"Over the four games I think we played well enough to win all of them but unfortunately hockey can be a fickle game ... we didn't make the most of our chances and the other teams did."
The Kookaburras will return home from India to start preparations for another FIH Pro League mini tournament against New Zealand and Great Britain from April 22-30 in Christchurch.