New Delhi: A superb hat-trick by Rani Rampal helped Indian women’s team beat hosts New Zealand 3-2 in the first game and go one up in the five-match hockey Test series at the Endeavour Trust Twin Turfs in Palmerston North on Saturday.
Rani, who was the lone scorer for India, struck in the 18th, 20th and 46th minutes. Sam Harrison (33rd and 61st) reduced the difference for New Zealand.
The hosts created an early opportunity, winning a penalty corner in the first minute of the match but they could not convert it. From thereon India took control of the game as the Black Sticks committed a number of unforced errors.
Indian strikers created a number of opportunities in the first half and the visitors surged head in the 18th minute when Rani scored a fantastic goal.
Rani sounded the board again just two minutes later to swell the difference.
The hosts then launched some quick attacks at the end of the first half and with just two minutes to go to halftime a Sam Harrison deflection helped New Zealand pull one back, Hockey India said in a statement.
The second half saw both the teams trying to hold possession and make fewer errors.
In the 46th minute India won a penalty corner and Rani did not make any mistake and found the target and also completed her hat-trick.
India then took control of the match, not giving New Zealand any opportunity to have possession of the ball and forced them into their own half as often as possible.
The hosts, however, pushed more players up front in an attempt to score and the strategy worked, with Harrison scoring her second goal in the 61st minute.
The Kiwis had a number of late opportunities, including a last minute penalty corner, but India defenders did well and managed to maintain their one goal lead till the final whistle.
The second game of the series will be played on Sunday at the same venue.