The Kookaburras have put on a clinic for a parochial Perth crowd, firing a warning shot to India as they charged to a 5-1 win, in the opening test of the Perth International Festival of Hockey.

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As if they needed any more motivation, the Kookaburras were playing at home in Perth for the first time in a few years, their recently named captain Aran Zalewski was celebrating his 250th match for Australia and Andrew Charter was ready to walk on as the most capped Australian goalkeeper ever.
As thousands of fans lined the banks to witness their side in action and Aran’s friends and family cheered from the ‘Aran Zalewski stand’, the Kookaburras were out to make a mark.
Within just three minutes, India were put on notice. NSW’s Tim Brand opened the scoring to give the Kookaburras the advantage. 
From there, Australia exemplified what Head Coach Colin Batch had said earlier in the week, that his side were focused, ready and a unified outfit ready to take on the Series.
The Kookaburras fast-paced hockey stumped the Indian defence and by the second quarter, Australia were 2-0 up, through an incredible recovery knock by Aran Zalewski, before Tom Wickham, aggressive on attack, found the back of the net. 
Earlier in the week, Zalewski had said he wouldn’t let the occasion get to him and he certainly made sure of that. Inspiring his side to two more goals in the third, before Flynn Ogilvie sealed the deal on India in the fourth, with the side’s fifth goal. 
India found the back of the net once in the 47th minute but it was all too late, as Aran Zalewski started to realise the gravity of his milestone to remember, under a pink dusk WA sunset just a few hours from his hometown.
Celebrating with his wife and daughter in the stands, surrounded by kids who were desperate for a signature with their local hero, a very delighted but worn out skipper, and player of the match, reflected on his moment.
“Before the game, you don’t want to think about it too much but it’s hard not to get caught up in it,” Zalewski said.
“To celebrate it with family and friends here and to have my own stand, I think it’ll be the first and only time I have one of those, I’m embracing it and I’m very grateful and loving it. I’m just full of gratitude and joy.”
At the other end of the field, Canberra’s Andrew Charter was making history as he became Australia’s most-capped goalkeeper ever, surpassing former Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch with 243 caps.
“I’m super stoked. It’s a proud moment for me and a credit to the Kookburras for letting me play for such a long time,” Charter said post-match.
“To do it on such a momentous night out here in Perth, we haven’t played in front of a home crowd for a long time and to tie it together with Aaron’s 250th is a pretty special moment.”
When asked about what it takes to remain in a high-pressure position for so many matches Charter was quick to respond.
“Oh there’s days I wish I didn’t do it! It is high pressure and I think I have a sick obsession with the pressure of an error being a bad outcome for the team and thriving off that, so yeah, I enjoy it.” 
“It’s not for everyone though!” He quickly exclaimed.
Former teammate and goalkeeper Johan Durst was quick to congratulate Andrew, saying he’s often tried to emulate some of his characteristics.
“It’s a really incredible achievement. You see that amount of games and you have to realise early on, at the start of your career you don’t play many matches, you’re often sitting on the bench and getting a few minutes here and there as the more senior goalkeepers play.”
“So to persist through a 10+ year career like that and maintain such exceptional form through that whole period is quite an amazing feat.”
The milestones keep on coming for the Kookaburras, with NSW’s Matt Dawson set to celebrate his 200th match for the side tomorrow afternoon, in the second Test against India.
You can see the full Perth International Festival of Hockey schedule here.
Match Details
Kookaburras: 5 (Tim Brand 3′, Tom Wickham 20′ & 38′, Joel Rintala 37′, Flynn Ogilvie 57′)
India: 1 (Gurjant Singh 47′)
At Perth Hockey Stadium
Kookaburras: 3. Corey Weyer, 4. Jake Harvie, 5. Tom Wickham, 6. Matt Dawson, 7. Nathan Ephraums, 8. Johan Durst (gk), 10. Josh Beltz, 11. Eddie Ockenden, 12. Jake Whetton, 17. Aran Zalewski (c), 20. Ky Willott, 22. Flynn Ogilvie, 23. Daniel Beale, 26. James Collins, 27. Joel Rintala, 29. Tim Brand, 30. Andrew Charter (gk), 32. Jeremy Hayward


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