Ipoh, April 6: Following their 2-2 draw against South Korea on Sunday, the Indian hockey team went down 1-2 despite giving a tough challenge to New Zealand in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here on Monday.
New Zealand captain Simon Child and Andy Hayward helped them seal the win while Akashdeep Singh scored the lone goal for India.
India maged to keep the ball in possession from the first minute and penetrated into the opponent’s D on a few occasions. Gurbaj Singh and Kothajit Singh continuously attacked from both flanks and kept the opponent’s defence busy.
From New Zealand's side, Child and midfielder Ryan Archibald tried to build attacks in the first quarter but were outclassed by the Indian defence.
In the second quarter, India earned the first pelty corner which went in vain. However, they maintained pressure on the Black Sticks, going into half-time 0-0.
At the restart, Indian defender V.R. Raghuth and forward Akashdeep took charge of a fast-pace attack and tried to create opportunities. But it was New Zealand who maged to take the lead (38th minute) when striker Shay Neal dribbled past Indian defenders in the D and hit the ball towards the goal. Child was standing near the box and a slight deflection scored their first goal.
However, their joy was short-lived as India scored the equaliser just five minutes later. India earned a pelty corner (43rd) with Raghuth taking the shot. But he hit the ball straight to goalkeeper Devon Manchester. Akashdeep, who was standing at the goalmouth, grabbed the chance on a counter-attack and pushed the ball into the net.
In the fil quarter, Akashdeep, Gurbaj and midfielder Dharamvir Singh led the attack and tried hard to create chances but each time their attack was thwarted by the Black Sticks’ defence line. In the 55th minute, New Zealand counter attacked and maged to earn a crucial pelty corner. They did not waste the opportunity as pelty corner specialist Hayward converted the opportunity into the winning goal.
India will play their next match against hosts Malaysia on April 8. IANS