The Indian men’s hockey team secured a 3-2 win over New Zealand in a nail-biting third game to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in four-Test series at Christchurch on Friday.
The first quarter started with a series of attacks coming in from the Indian side who dominated the entire session. Without wasting much time, Akashdeep Singh broke into the opponents defence from the left flank but unfortunately his attack was stopped by New Zealand’s Nick Haig. In the 10th minute India was awarded with a penalty corner which was effectively converted by Rupinder Pal Singh giving India the much required lead of 1-0. The opening goal got the hosts on the back foot and they tried to get back in the game but were continuously denied by the strong Indian defence leaving the scorecard at 1-0 in favour of India at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter of the game, India dominated the early part with attempts from Nikkin Thimmaiah who pushed the ball into the opponent’s inner circle from the left flank as he passed the ball to Mandeep Singh but unluckily his deflection went wide off the post. This was followed by the New Zealand strikers counter attack as they broke through the Indian defence by an unmarked Jared Panchia, who, from a cross ball scored a field goal in the 22nd minute and equalised the score at 1-1. Going ahead in to the game dextrously, the Kiwi Team yet again got an opportunity to take the lead through a penalty corner but Nick Haig flicked the ball off the target. With this, the first half of the game ended with a levelled score of 1-1.
With the change of ends, both the teams tried to make continuous efforts to pierce the opponents half but could not find a way through. It was in the 41st minute when Akashdeep Singh surged ahead and gave a well crafted pass to Ramandeep Singh who calmly finished, giving India its second goal through a field effort which advanced the scores at 2-1 in the visiting team’s favour. With each added goal, New Zealand boys were seen in tremendous pressure to equalise the score but the Indian defence stood strong to wipe out all the scoring opportunities for them. However, the third quarter finished with India leading 2-1.
The Indian team got a great chance to extend its lead in the early minutes of the fourth quarter with Nikkin Thimmaiah running into the Kiwi defence with classical personal skills but the Kiwi defence blocked the attack without any damage. On the other side, New Zealand counter attacked and levelled the score at 2-2 in the 52nd minute with a field goal coming from the stick of Steve Edwards. As the scores were equalled on 2-2, India intensified the attacks on the opponent and Sardar Singh initiated a move from the left side of the post and pushed a cross ball inside the New Zealand’s D which went wide. While, New Zealand was seen in desperation to score goals, the Indian boys in the 60th minute turned around the table in their favour when Dharamvir Singh penetrated the nets through a reverse hit which concluded the game at 3-2 in favour of India.
India will take on New Zealand in the last match of the Series on 11th October at Christchurch.