Ipoh, Malaysia, 13 April 2016: India lost narrowly to New Zealand 2-1 in an hard fought encounter in the 25th Sultan Shah Cup 2016 after an impressive 5-1 win over arch rivals Pakistan yesterday.
After today’s win over India, New Zealand jumped to second place in points table after playing all the 6 matches, while India are at third place and yet to play their final league match against Malaysia. India needs to win the match to find place in final against Australia.
Playing in the blazing afternoon heat, both teams started off slowly, in the first half, with neither team managing any clear chances on goal, and splitting the possession evenly between them. India had their first PC five minutes into the second quarter, and from the attempt Rupinder Pal Singh saw his drag flick brilliantly saved by Devon Manchester in New Zealand’s goal.
New Zealand had their own PC with two minutes of the quarter left, and Kane Russell duly converted to give the Black Sticks the lead in the 28th minute. The score at half time was 1-0 in favour of New Zealand.
India came out stronger after the halftime break, and started exerting their influence on the game. Six minutes into the quarter, a mistake by New Zealand at the edge of the circle gave Talwinder SIngh a chance to fire a shot on goal. Mandeep Singh, opportunistically, deflected the driving shot to draw India level.
New Zealand hit back with another goal in the 41st minute. Harjot Singh saved the first attempt, blocking a flicked shot with his pad. Unfortunately though, the rebound fell straight to Nicholas Wilson, who made no mistake firing it in to help his team regain the lead.
Looking for the equaliser, India created a lot of chances in the final quarter, first via a PC by Rupinder Pal Singh, saved on the line and then a snapshot by Nikkin Thimmaiah, which went wide of the target. Kyle Pontifex, who came on as a replacement goalkeeper in the second half kept out another Harmanpreet Singh drag flick in the 53rd minute to deny India an equaliser.
Speaking after the match Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans said, “We played a strong game, considering the conditions we must consider ourselves a bit unlucky. Both the New Zealand goalkeepers had a great game. We get another opportunity to get to the final though, and are focussed on winning our next game against the hosts Malaysia to get that spot.”
Manpreet Singh scored India’s opener in the 4th minute and SV Sunil scored a brace (10th and 41st Minutes) supported by Talwinder Singh (50th minute) and Rupinder Pal Singh (54th minute) to defeat Pakistan by 5-1 in yesterday’s encounter against arch-rivals.
India take on Malaysia at 18:05 pm on Friday, 15 April.