The Indian hockey team got off to a horrendous start in the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup after they were thrashed 5-1 by New Zealand in their opening match earlier today. Strikes from Simon Child, Andy Hayward, Nick Wilson, Stephen Jenness and Matt L’hullier were more than enough as Shivendra Singh‘s goal in the 6th minute proved to be a mere consolation in a total drubbing for the Indian side.
The game kicked off at blistering pace as New Zealand seized the lead inside the opening 40 seconds. The Kiwis pushed fast from midfield and swept in the ball into the D area and Sandeep Singh fumbled at it, allowing Simon Child to tap into the goal to give them a dream start.
Nevertheless, India managed to restore parity minutes later as Shivendra capitalized on a defensive mishap by the New Zealand defense, flicked it in front of the goal mouth and placed it impressively to equalize for India.
From that moment on, India were revitalized and pushed hard on the offensive. But instead of finding more chances, they found it very hard to contain the resilient New Zealand defense. The Oceania side could have then regained their lead in the 22nd minute, but they failed to convert three successive penalty corners as India survived the mini scare. Michael Nobbs’ men were eager to take the lead before half time and Yuvraj Walmiki could have scored had he not wasted a glorious chance by shooting wide. But ultimately it was New Zealand that dealt India a massive blow by netting their second strike through Andy Hayward moments before half time.
Both sides came back for the second half with fire in their belly as it kicked off in high tempo. India were awarded a penalty corner in the 36th minute but Raghunath’s pile-driver went straight to the New Zealand goalkeeper. Michael Nobbs’ men were visibly the dominant side during this period of time although they were absolutely woeful in front of the goal. New Zealand too squandered a few penalty corner chances before finally increasing their lead in the 58th minute, courtesy of a Nick Wilson deflection to a midfield pass.
The Indians were already getting demotivated at this point as New Zealand began to increase their tempo. Three minutes later, they scored a fourth goal as Stephen Jenness finished off a counter attack by smashing in a shot into the open goal. With only 8 minutes left on the clock, the Kiwis began to assert themselves by dominating the possession.
However, they managed to add salt on India’s wounds as they scored their fifth goal through a penalty corner in the 65th minute. Matt L’hullier finished off with a terrific grounder that left India’s goalkeeper flat-footed. It was definitely a disastrous start to the Sultan Azlan Shah campaign for India, but they will have to pull themselves up in time for their second match against South Korea tomorrow.