The Indian men’s Hockey team made up for their disappointments in their first two games with a fighting 3-3 draw with New Zealand in a Pool B match of the first Hockey World League semifinals in Rotterdam.
Playing an attacking brand of hockey from the starting hooter, India looked a pale shadow of the side that dished out pretty ordinary hockey against Ireland and Netherlands.
The Indians kept essaying crosses from the flanks on a regular basis, but the drill-ins at most times did not find an Indian forward even as the Black Sticks struggled to control the possession.
India won their first penalty corner in the 2nd minute, but Rupinder Pal Singh’s drag-flick was well foiled by New Zealand goalkeeper Devon Manchester.
The fact that India dominated possession was hardly reflected in the scoreline as New Zealand took the lead against the run of play in the 6th minute through Marcus Child.
The Black Sticks had an opportunity to extend the lead when they were awarded their second short corner in the 16th minute but the Indian defence thwarted that effort.
India pressed hard for the equalizer but the Black Sticks kept things tight in defence.
New Zealand soaked all the Indian pressure in their ‘D’ and led 1-0 at half-time.
The Indians attacked with more conviction in the second half and were duly rewarded when SV Sunil darted down the right and essayed a nice pass to Mandeep Singh who tapped home in the 45th minute.
The Blueshirts pulled ahead a minute later when vice-captain Vokkaliga Raghunath converted his side’s second penalty corner in the 48th minute after Sandeep Singh sold a dummy.
New Zealand kept attacking belligerently when Jenness slammed home, making it 2-2 in a one-to-one situation with PR Sreejesh in the 51st minute.
India kept the Indian supporters excited when Chinglensana Singh deflected home a Kothajit Singh pass in a goalmouth melee in the 53rd minute.
New Zealand had their chances. They wasted their second short corner in the 61st minute and soon frittered away a golden opportunity to restore parity when captain and vastly experienced Dean Couzins misfired a penalty stroke.
Blair Hopkin ensured that the Black Sticks didn’t have to pay a big price make it 3-3in the 66th minute.
The Indian forward line, especially SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh shonein a fast-paced match.
Midfielder Manpreet Singh had a good day as he impressed with his overlapping runs as well as his strong play in defence.
India will face Australia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.