India edge New Zealand 3-2 in Four-Nations hockey tournament

India overcame a strong challenge by hosts New Zealand to win 3-2 in their opening match of the second leg of Four Nations Invitational Tournament here on Wednesday.

India edge New Zealand 3-2 in Four-Nations hockey tournament
Photo: Hockey India

Hamilton: India overcame a strong challenge by hosts New Zealand to win 3-2 in their opening match of the second leg of Four Nations Invitational Tournament here on Wednesday.

Lalit Upadhyay (7th minute), Harjeet Singh (32nd) and Rupinder Pal Singh (36th) scored for India while New Zealand's goals came through Daniel Harris (23rd) and Kane Russell (37th).

The home team looked set to dominate early on. They made a potential circle penetration in the fifth minute. But the Indians built on their game, rotated the ball tactfully, looking for chances in New Zealand's circle.

A breakthrough came when skipper Manpreet Singh found Vivek Sagar Prasad swiftly moving towards the top of the circle. Vivek's reverse hit rebounded off the New Zealand keeper.

Lalit picked up the ball to deflect it past Black Sticks' goalkeeper Devon Manchester, fetching India a valuable 1-0 lead.

The second quarter saw New Zealand fight back, constantly attacking the Indian circle and keeping goalkeeper PR Sreejesh busy.

One such circle penetration won New Zealand their first penalty corner but Kane Russell's dragflick was well saved by Sreejesh.

An error by an Indian defender in New Zealand's half saw them lose possession in the following minute that led to New Zealand's equaliser.

Hugo Inglis skilfully dribbled into India's circle from the right flank, got a reverse shot on goal. Although 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 penalty corner in the 26th minute, the flick was wide, ending the second quarter in a stalemate.

The third quarter saw India come back after the 10-minute break with fresh tactics to attack.

Forward Mandeep Singh was clever in his approach to win India their first penalty corner of the match in the 32nd minute which was successfully converted by Harjeet, who played the part of a stopper but eventually took the shot himself.

Lalit won India their second penalty corner in the 36th minute. This time Rupinder was near perfect as he improvised Ramandeep Singh's injection to find the bottom right of the Kiwi post.

A minute later, New Zealand bagged another penalty corner. Kane Russell successfully executed it, keeping the ball low to the left pocket.

Though New Zealand won another penalty corner, Russell's flick went high up and wide.

The last quarter saw New Zealand make desperate attempts to equalise but the Indians did not allow the hosts any chances to score.

India will take on Belgium in their second match on Thursday.

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