On Saturday night at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, a shootout was needed to separate the two hockey heavyweights -- Australia and the Netherlands. To top that, only sudden death could decide the winner of the second semi-final between the two three time champions.
Australia: 1(Miss) Aran Zalewski 2(Hit) Daniel Beale 3(Hit) Tom Craig 4(Miss) Tim Brand 5(Hit)Jake Whetton 6(Miss)Daniel Beale
Netherlands: 1(Hit) Jeroen Hertzberger 2(Miss) Mirco Pruijser 3(Miss) Robbert Kemperman 4(Hit) van Ass Seve van 5(Hit) Dam Thijs 6(Hit) Jeroen Hertzberger
The match had something for everyone. For the slambang type - a thrilling shootout, for the traditionalist - a beautiful hockey show, courtesy the Netherlands and for the in-betweens the ever-aggressive Aussie attacking play.
If you compare it to a Bollywood plot, a fluent screenplay with various thrills and spills that ended in a perfect climax.
Despite the Aussies being on the ball striking both long balls and the short was a highlight, the Dutch left the World No.1 side far behind.
So far behind that the favouries, who humiliated China 11-0 had to wait till the final minute of the third quarter to get on board. Earlier, with goals from Glenn Schuurman and Seve van Ass in the 9th and 20th minutes, respectively. The Aussies created all --opportunities, won penalty corners, and even executed those reasonably well until the wall of the Netherlands team Blaak Pirmin had answers to everything they threw at him.
Before the clash, it had the top billing as the match of the tournament. A revenge clash as the hurt from their 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Aussies at home in the previous edition in Amsterdam hasn't been forgotten.
Both teams wanted it badly and that was evident in the first couple of minutes of the 2nd semifinal. Attacking hockey from the word go.
It's a 19-day tournament with just a day's break before the two semis, but the fever hasn't waned yet (and promises to hit the peak on the final Sunday) in the nation's hockey capital. Despite hosts India crashing out in the last-8 stage, the hockey-loving state proved why the fans here are highly rated by the players across the world.
While there were many empty seats in the 15,000 seater at the Kalinga on Saturday evening when England were being mauled by the RedLions, as the day grew darker closer to the Australia-Holland match, evey vacant seat was hunted down and there were still a few looking for one, by Half-Time.
At that stage, not many would have thought that after 33 games in the 14th edition of the Hockey World Cup 2018, the capacity crowd would be given the taste of a shootout.
Australia 2 Tim Howard 45' Eddie Ockenden 60'
Netherlands 2 Glenn Schuurman 9 Seve van Ass 20'
The clash between these two was so captivating that how Belgium mauled England only an hour ago was completely forgotten. Surprisingly, it was Belgium that turned up with their A-game on the day making England cut a sorry figure in their 6-0 victory.
Belgium 6 Tom Boon 8' Simon Gougnard 19' Cedric Charlier 42' Alexander Hendrickz 45+' 50' Sebastien Dockier 53'
While Belgium will hope to this momentum forward and pray they stun the favourites in the finale, the opposition's Argentine coach Max Caldas will be on high alert to ensure that's not to be. Afterall, a double is for the taking after he successfully led the Dutch women's national team to World Cup glory and Olympic gold, since taking over as coach.
And if things go as per script, the 45-year-old can very well be holding the World Cup on Sunday night, thus ending their 20-year-long wait.
Netherlands that finished fourth at the Rio Olympics, certainly has a point to prove, against Belgium who took the 2nd place behind Argentina.