Hosts India played out a 1-1 draw against defending champions Australia in their opening pool encounter at the World Hockey League final played out in the Kalinga Stadium, Odisha on Friday.
Mandeep Singh gave India the lead in the 20th minute with a stellar strike. Manpreet timed his cross pass to perfection, Lakra intercepted it and passed it to Mandeep who netted one past the Australian goal. Australia drew level in the very next minute by converting a penalty corner.
The teams were in a deadlock in the first half.Both the team's stepped up the attack in the second half but none of them could convert.
The showpiece event features the top eight teams in the world. The winner of the tournament gets a berth in Men's Champions Trophy.
In the eight-time tournament, all teams are guaranteed for a quarter-final spot as there are only eight teams but India will like to earn a spot and not moved ahead as a consolation.
Last time at HWL Finals, India lost three of their group games and yet went on to win a bronze medal. This could be one of the toughest tournament for the young Indian team that is without the iconic Sardar Singh.