Resurgent India thump New Zealand 4-2
The New Zealand team has proved to be a big thorn in the flesh for India in recent times. The last two recent face-offs at the 2012 London Olympics and 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup haven’t been much to India’s liking, with the blue shirts being handed embarrassing 1-3 and 1-5 defeats respectively.
India looked determined to sort out the New Zealand puzzle when they locked horns with them in the 34th Champions Trophy match on Sunday. And it showed on the turf, as India turned in a dazzling display to fashion a 4-2 victory over New Zealand.
The script, however, did not go the way the Indians would have thought. A casual backpass by captain Sardar Singh caught Rupinder Pal Singh by surprise at the goal-line as he struggled to control the ball as it rolled into India’s goal – a self goal in the 4th minute giving Black Sticks the early advantage.
The early shocker served as a warning bell for the Indians, who attacked in waves on both the flanks. Their persistence paid off when birthday boy Akashdeep Singh restored parity in the 11th minute, deflecting home a pass from Sardar.
New Zealand did make sporadic attacks but poor finishing let them down. Phillip Burrows was guilty of missing two good scoring opportunities.
The equalizer pumped up the Indians, who indulged in free-flowing hockey. Gurvinder Singh Chandi put India ahead in the 15th minute, among a melee of New Zealand players.
New Zealand tried to press forward but they were up against a stout Indian defence. They cancelled out three penalty corner attempts from New Zealand.
India earned their first penalty corner in the 25th minute and vice-captain Vokkaliga Raghunath made it count with a stinging drag-flick to take India into half time with a two-goal advantage.
New Zealand exhibited more urgency in the second half and it worked as they reduced the deficit through Nick Wilson in the 37th minute.
The goal failed to perturb the Indians, who continued their offensive raids. Gurwinder Singh Chandi along with captain Sardar blossomed upfront, repeatedly asking questions to the New Zealand defence.
The repeated forays by the Indians fructified when Danish Mujtaba tapped home India’s fourth goal.
India now top Pool A with two wins from as many games.