Auckland: The Indian men's hockey team outplayed New Zealand A 3-1 to get its Kiwi tour off to a positive start here on Friday.
Akashdeep Singh (third minute), Ramandeep Singh (20th) and Nikkin Thimmaiah (26th) scored for the visitors, who will play their second match on Saturday.
During the match, the first quarter started with New Zealand A going on the attack and earning two back-to-back penalty corners in the first few minutes. India’s star goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh displayed his quick moves to thwart both the attempts.
Later Ramandeep was seen brilliantly dribbling past the defenders and gave a beautiful pass to fellow forward Akashdeep, who was quick to put the ball into the nets without giving any chance to the New Zealand custodian in the third minute.
After conceding a goal, New Zealand A players attacked again and looked for opportunities to score the equaliser. However, the Indian defenders restricted their moves and maintained pressure on the home team.
In the second quarter, centre-half Sardar Singh-captained India started with fierce attacks and kept the ball moving in the other half. In the 20th minute, Ramandeep sneaked into the defence line and scored a spectacular field goal, taking the score to 2-0.
Inspired by Ramandeep’s goal, defender Gurjinder Singh raced into the Kiwi circle and passed the ball to forward Thimmaiah, who outfoxed the defenders with his dribbling skills and made it 3-0 in the 26th minute. With this marvellous field goal, the Indians were in the lead 3-0 by the end of the second quarter.
Trailing 0-3, the New Zealand players managed to keep the ball in the Indian half and tried to create opportunities. In the 36th minute, they earned a crucial penalty corner and successfully converted it for their opening goal.
The Indians counter-attacked the home team and created pressure again. New Zealand were now playing a defensive game and kept their goal post protected. The scorecard stood 3-1 by the end of the third quarter in India's favour.
In the fourth quarter also Indian forwards Ramandeep, Akashdeep and Nikkin kept the defenders busy and played most of the game in the opponent’s half. After a series of attacks from India, the match finished 3-1 in favour of the Asian Games champions.