Hamilton (New Zealand), 24 Jan 2018: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team overcame a strong challenge by hosts New Zealand to win 3-2 in their opening match at the second-leg of Four Nations Invitational Tournament here at Hamilton on Wednesday. It was Lalit Upadhyay (7’), Harjeet Singh (32’) and Rupinder Pal Singh (36’) who scored in India’s win while New Zealand’s goals came through Daniel Harris (23’) and Kane Russell (37’).
Though the home team looked to dominate early on as they were quick to make a potential circle penetration in the 5th minute of the match, the Indian team built on their game, rotated the ball tactfully, looking for chances in New Zealand’s circle and progressed efficiently. A breakthrough came soon enough when skipper Manpreet Singh found Vivek Sagar Prasad swiftly moving towards the top of the circle, though Vivek’s reverse hit rebounded off the New Zealand keeper, Lalit Upadhyay ensured he picked up the ball to deflect it past Black Sticks goalkeeper Devon Manchester fetching India a 1-0 lead.
The second quarter saw New Zealand fight back, constantly attacking the Indian circle and kept goalkeeper PR Sreejesh busy at the post. One such circle penetration won New Zealand their first PC of the match but Kane Russell’s drag flick was well-saved by Sreejesh. An error by Indian defender in New Zealand’s half, saw them lose possession in the following minutes that led to New Zealand’s equalizer. It was Hugo Inglis who skilfully dribbled into India’s circle from the right flank, got a reverse shot on goal although PR Sreejesh padded the ball away, Daniel Harris was quick to pick up the rebound and put it past the Indian goalkeeper to level 1-1. Though the home team won a PC in the 26th minute, the flick was wide, ending the second quarter in a stalemate.
The third quarter saw India come back after the ten-minute break with fresh tactics to attack. Forward Mandeep Singh was clever in his approach to win India their first PC of the match in the 32nd minute which was successfully converted by Harjeet Singh, who played the part of a stopper but eventually took the shot himself. Lalit later won India their second PC in the 36th minute and this time Rupinder Pal Singh was near-perfect as he improvised Ramandeep Singh’s injection to find the bottom right of the post. A minute later, New Zealand bagged a PC and was successfully executed by Kane Russell who kept it low to the left pocket. Though New Zealand won another PC in the following minutes, Russell’s flick went high up and wide.
The last quarter saw New Zealand make desperate attempts to equalise but their efforts were constantly kept at bay with India staying alert in their defence, not allowing the hosts any chances to score, and successfully held on to the lead till the final hooter.
eom/HI press note posted by David Bodapati
On January 25, India will take on Belgium in their second match at 10.15 HOURS IST.
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