Four Nations: Indian Hockey Team Take Down Hosts New Zealand
A structured defence and clinical attack saw India beat hosts New Zealand 3-1 in their final round-robin match of the double-leg Four Nations Invitational Tournament at Blake Park in Tauranga on Saturday.
India will play the final of the Tauranga-leg of the tournament against Belgium on Sunday, who beat Japan 4-1.
The four teams will face off in the Hamilton-leg of the tournament from 24-28 January.
It was India's young brigade Harmanpreet Singh (2'), Dilpreet Singh (12') and Mandeep Singh (47') who scored after the team had suffered a 0-2 loss against Belgium in their previous match.
India's mantra on Saturday was to play aggressive and that's exactly what they did right from the start.
Their first breakthrough came as early as the second minute of the match when a circle entry fetched them a penalty corner created by Mandeep Singh.
It was Harmanpreet Singh who stepped up for the drag flick and he was impeccable and fierce as he improvised the injection to flick the ball past New Zealand goal keeper Richard Joyce. The early goal undoubtedly put the Black Sticks on the backfoot.
The next few minutes saw India hold their defence with Rupinder Pal Singh, who was rested for the match against Belgium, leading the charge of defenders as their man-to-man marking was spot on, not allowing New Zealand to make easy forays into India's circle.
India colt Dilpreet Singh, who had scored two goals in his first outing for the national side, was impressive when he picked up the assist to put the ball past the New Zealand goal post in the 21st minute, taking India's lead to a comfortable 2-0.
India held on to the lead with a well-rounded performance. Though India conceded a PC in the 42nd minute which was well-executed by New Zealand's Kane Russell, India didn't drop their momentum and continued their attack swiftly and tactically.
In the 47th minute, Mandeep Singh was excellent in the circle to score an impressive goal to earn India a 3-1 score-line.
We started the match much better today and I saw individual improvement. It’s important for the players to keep pushing themselves. I am particularly happy about today’s win because the team did a lot of analysing ahead of the match and their keenness to improve was evident.Sjoerd Marijne, Chief Coach, Indian Hockey Team
(We Indians have much to talk about these days. But what would you tell India if you had the chance? Pick up the phone and write or record your Letter To India. Don’t be silent, tell her how you feel. Mail us your letter at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll make sure India gets your message.)
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.)