BENGALURU, July 21 (PTI): The Indian men’s hockey team registered its second successive victory against New Zealand, beating the visitors 3-1 to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Test series at the Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru Campus here.
India began the opening quarter with a structured attack. It was striker SV Sunil who took the team’s first potential shot on goal in the opening minute but was well defended by New Zealand goalkeeper Richard Joyce.
India dominated the quarter as the team’s attack won two PC opportunities, however, the home team could not convert and the two teams ended the first quarter in a stalemate.
The second quarter saw India showcase an improvised attack. They won three back-to-back PCs in the 18th minute and Rupinder Pal Singh was third-time lucky after two of his previous flicks were blocked by New Zealand’s first rusher.
It was Manpreet Singh who made a perfect injection that was powerfully picked up by Rupinder to fire it past Joyce, fetching India their first breakthrough. Almost a minute later, the experienced forward Sunil fetched India another PC, however, this time the variation did not work.
In the 24th minute, Stephen Jenness caught the Indian defence off guard when he pierced through the striking circle, beating PR Sreejesh, who had run up to block him and found an open goal to put the ball into the post for an equaliser.
India retorted back with a splendid field goal in the 27th minute through striker Sunil, who worked in tandem with Simranjeet Singh. This brilliant goal won back India their lead and ended the second quarter with the scoreboard reading 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
New Zealand stitched together an improvised defence in the third quarter but their attack remained jaded.
India upped the ante in the final quarter as they made enthralling forays into the striking circle. One such attempt, Sunil made a brilliant pass from the right flank to Mandeep Singh, who swiftly deflected into the post, taking India’s lead to 3-1 in the 56th minute. The defence held strong to keep up the lead till the end.