ODISHA, India – India overcame New Zealand 7-4 in a high-scoring thriller in the FIH Men’s Pro League after trailed 1-3 at one stage. India played some outstanding offensive hockey.
Despite dominating the first quarter, New Zealand was unable to score in the following three 15-minute quarters due to India’s relentless pressure. The host Indian team, who had won the first match 4 to 3 against the same opponents just last October 28, 2022, suffered in the opening 15 minutes by giving up three goals. They did, however, change the course of the game by scoring two goals in each of the next three quarters.
India also achieved a 56% ball possession percentage and outshot the opposition by a score of 12 to 6. India’s captain Harmanpreet Singh scored twice (7th and 19th minutes; both PCs), followed by Karthi Selvam (17th and 38th minutes), Raj Kumar Pal (31st minute), Sukhjeet Singh (50th minute), and Jugraj Singh (53rd minute). The goal scorers for New Zealand were Simon Child (2nd), Sam Lane (9th), Smith Jake (14th), and Nic Woods (54th). In the game, India earned 11 penalty corners, of which three were successful.
The Indians had a dominant performance, playing excellent attacking hockey with 29 circle penetrations to New Zealand’s 13. Additionally, India had a ball possession percentage of 56% and had 12 shots on goal compared to the visiting team’s six.
In the opening minute of the game, New Zealand scored on its first assault. Simon Child had plenty of time to control and hammer the ball past goalkeeper PR Sreejesh at the opposite end after Kane Russell’s low cross from the right channel raced past three Indian defenders.
Graham Reid, the head coach of India, had previously discussed defensive lapses in the team’s first two games of the year. On Friday, the same mistakes were made by the home team, who gave up three goals in the opening fifteen minutes despite pulling one back.
India earned three straight penalty corners and tied the game on the last one. Karthi Selvam was struck in the face by George Enersen’s kick from the first, which resulted in a second penalty corner that Harmanpreet missed. However, a New Zealand runner’s foul gave India their third penalty corner, and this time Harmanpreet fired his drag flick to the bottom corner.
Sam Lane added another field goal three minutes later after Surender Kumar erred by improperly collecting an interception. With less than two minutes remaining in the first session, New Zealand made it 3-1 thanks to Dylan Thomas’ hard work on the left flank, which led to Jake Smith’s deflection of the Indian goal off the low pass.
In the second session, India came out swinging and scored two goals in as many minutes. Two minutes into the second session, Manpreet Singh displayed his class by snatching up a loose ball in midfield and sending a reverse-stick pass for Selvam Karthi to execute a superb finish by blasting past a helpless goalkeeper Enersen.
Then, Harmanpreet equalized the score with his second goal of the game and fourth of the tournament, as his drag flick once more went through the middle of the advancing runners. In the 18th minute, the score was tied (3-3), and it stayed that way until the end of the second quarter.
India had 12 circle penetration in the first half compared to three for New Zealand, making them the more aggressive team. India also controlled the ball 58% of the time. In the first minute of the third quarter, Rajkumar Pal scored India’s first goal of the game after New Zealand goalie Enersen parried a shot from Mandeep. Selvam Karthi scored his second goal of the game, bringing the score to 5-3, by deftly collecting a long pass and beating Enersen.
A rampaging India scored twice in the third and final quarter through Sukhjeet and Jugraj to end the game after scoring two goals in each of the second and third quarters without receiving a response. On Sunday, India and Spain will meet here in their second-leg contest. Just last October 30th, India had suffered a 2-3 loss to the European team.