India get better of New Zealand as they defeat them 4-2 in the opening Hockey Test
Yesterday was certainly a great day for the Indian Men’s Hockey Team, as they kick-started their 3 match Hockey Test Series with a definitive 4-2 win over New Zealand in the Bangalore campus of Sports Authority of India.
The game was extremely gripping from the very start, as the strikers won India it’s first penalty corner within the opening minute. They called upon Rupinder Pal Singh to convert, and he happily obliged by shooting the ball past the Kiwi goalkeeper Richard Joyce, making the score 1-0 in only the second minute. To add further insult to injury, Mandeep Singh doubled India’s lead 2-0 after receiving a masterful cross from Manpreet Singh, which he blasted into the goal.
In the second quarter, New Zealand resolved to end their woes and enacted this by upping their defensive play and denying India the chance to extend their lead to 3-0. Boosted by their defensive counterparts, the forwards of New Zealand also started showing spirit and in the 26th minute, Stephen Jenness scored a skillful goal, making the tally 1-2.
But after the first half, things really began to fall apart for New Zealand. Determined to put up a more robust attack, India began to slowly penetrate New Zealand’s defence and Forward SV Sunil eventually created another penalty corner opportunity. Once again, Rupinder Pal Singh was called and he drag flicked the ball fluently into the top corner to extend India’s lead 3-1. And just four minutes later at the 38th minute mark, SV Sunil created yet another penalty corner and this time it was Harmanpreet Singh who scored successfully.
The 4-1 score was surely a daunting one, but that didn’t stop the Kiwis from constantly trying to create opportunities to score, and it finally paid off when Stephen Jenness scored for the second time. Things looked even better for them when they won a penalty corner with just four minutes left in the match. Nic Woods opted to take the shot, but he flicked the ball far outside the goal. In the next four minutes, they won an impressive three more penalty corners, but each of them were masterfully blocked by Indian goalkeeper Suraj Karkera.
This win is especially sweet after India lost to New Zealand in the semi finals of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and will give India a great confidence boost for the next match, which will take place on the 21st of July.
And although the Hockey stars of India will be happy with this game, they will not be as happy over the sudden change of venue that has taken the entire Hockey Test series to a ground in Kengeri, which lies on the outskirts of Bangalore. Apart from being at a considerable distance from the center of the city, this Sports Authority of India ground doesn’t even allow the admission of general public, which means that no one will be there to cheer on the players as they aim to whitewash New Zealand in this series. What’s more, even the media had trouble getting into this stadium, after facing stubborn security guards who claim they had no idea that a Hockey Test was being held here.
The Hockey Test series was originally supposed to be held at the Karnataka State Hockey Stadium, which lies in the center of the city and allows general public to spectate. Whereas a shift in venue seems unlikely, the Hockey Association of Karnataka has hinted that the final game could be held in this stadium.