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Rampaging India beats New Zealand 7-4 in FIH Pro League | Hockey News

BHUBANESWAR: India handed out an impressive brand of offensive hockey after trailing 1-3 at one point to beat New Zealand 7-4 in a high-scoring thriller in the FIH Pro League on Friday.
The home side, who had beaten the same opponents 4-3 in the first leg on October 28, struggled with three goals in the first 15 minutes, but turned the game on its hand when they each scored two goals in the following three quarters.
New Zealand dominated the first quarter but later sank under India’s relentless onslaught as they could only score one goal in the next three 15-minute periods.
Captain Harmanpreet Singh (7th and 19th minutes; both PCs), Karthi Selvam (17th and 38th), Raj Kumar Pali (31st), Sukhjeet Singh (50th) and Jugraj Singh (53rd) scored for India.
For New Zealand, Simon Child (2nd), Sam Lane (9th), Smith Jake (14th) and Nic Woods (54th) were the scorers.
India got 11 penalty corners in the match, three of which were converted.
In the end it was a dominating performance by the Indians who produced a fine offensive hockey with 29 circle penetrations against 13 by New Zealand. India also had 56 percent possession of the ball and 12 shots at the opposing team’s goal against six of the visiting team.
India’s head coach Graham Reid had talked about defensive mistakes in the previous two games of the season and again on Friday the home side made blunders conceding three goals in the first 15 minutes, though they pulled one out in that period.
New Zealand scored from the first attack of the match in the first minute. A low cross from Kane Russell from the right channel swept past three Indian defenders and Simon Child on the other side had all the time in the world to keep the ball under control and blast past goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
India got three consecutive penalty corners and equalized from the last. From George Enersen’s first goal, Karthi hit Selvam in the face, leading to the second penalty corner from which Harmanpreet pouted.
But somehow a foul by New Zealand runners gave India their third penalty corner and Harmanpreet sent his drag move into the bottom corner this time.
Three minutes later, Sam Lane scored another field goal after Surender Kumar slipped and failed to collect an intercept properly.
New Zealand made it 3-1 with under two minutes left in the first session, with Dylan Thomas doing the spade work with a fine run down the left flank, culminating in Jake Smith’s deflection to the Indian goal from the low pass.
India came back roaring in the second session and scored two quick goals within three minutes.
Manpreet Singh showed his class as he collected a loose ball in midfield and handed Selvam Karthi a reverse stick pass to complete a brilliant finish, firing past an unlucky goalkeeper Enersen two minutes into the second session.
Harmanpreet then scored his second goal of the game and fourth of the tournament, as his drag movement again went through the middle of the onrushing runners to sound the board and even the scores. In the 18th minute it was square (3-3) and it remained that way until the end of the second quarter.
India was the more attacking side in the first half with 12 circle penetration against New Zealand’s three. India also had 58 percent possession.
India took the lead for the first time in the game with Rajkumar Pal tapping the ball in the first minute of the third quarter after New Zealand goalkeeper Enersen saved a shot from Mandeep.
Selvam Karthi made it 5-3 with his second goal of the game, neatly collecting a long pass and passing Enersen.
After scoring two goals each in the second and third quarters with no response, a savage India struck twice in the third and final quarters via Sukhjeet and Jugraj to calm the game.
India will play against Spain in their first leg on Sunday. India had lost 2-3 to the European side on October 30.

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