Karthi Selvam (17’, 38’), Raj Kumar Pal (31’), Sukhjeet Singh (50’), and Jugraj Singh (53’)
Having conceded a two-goal lead initially, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team roared back in style, handing New Zealand a 7-4 defeat in the 2022-23 FIH Hockey Pro League at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday evening. For India, the goals came from Captain Harmanpreet Singh (7’, 19’), Karthi Selvam (17’, 38’), Raj Kumar Pal (31’), Sukhjeet Singh (50’), and Jugraj Singh (53’) while the New Zealanders had Simon Child (2’), Sam Lane (9’), Jake Smith (14’) and Nic Woods (54’) on the scoresheet.
India didn’t have the start they’d have liked as Simon Child (2’) was on hand to find the back of the net, past PR Sreejesh in the second minute of the game. But it was India all the way from then on in, as they started asking questions of the New Zealand defense. The pressure produced a hat-trick of penalty corners, and Captain Harmanpreet Singh (7’) rifled home the third attempt into the bottom corner, bringing India right back on level terms. A couple of minutes later, Sam Lane (9’) took advantage of a slip-up and put New Zealand ahead, much to the dismay of the home fans. While India went in search of another equalizer, their opponents struck another again with Jake Smith (14’) deflecting it past Sreejesh for a 3-1 lead at the end of the high-scoring opening quarter.
Krishan Pathak replaced Sreejesh in the next quarter, but the action was at the other end with Manpreet Singh carrying it well and laying it up for Karthi Selvam (17’), who finished it off beautifully to make it 3-2. Minutes later, another Manpreet pass caused panic in the New Zealand defense, with the goal George Enersen conceding a penalty corner, which Harmanpreet Singh (19’) duly put away, making it 3-3. A dominant India wasn’t able to find a fourth but importantly did not allow their opponents a look at Krishan Pathak’s goal, with both sides going into half-time all square.
Less than a minute into the second half, India took the lead for the first time in the game with Raj Kumar Pal (31’) making no mistake from close range, giving his side a 4-3 lead. India defended fiercely and attacked with pace from then on in, as Karthi Selvam (38’) doubled the lead, and the noise levels went up by a few decibels. New Zealand earned a flurry of penalty corners at the end of the third quarter, but India and Sreejesh kept them out, protecting the lead ahead of the final fifteen minutes.
The hosts continued to pile on the pressure on the Black Sticks, and another superb pass from Manpreet found Sukhjeet Singh (50’), who deflected it past the keeper making it 6-3. New Zealand had a mountain to climb and India was in no mood to relent. A flurry of penalty corners followed for India with Jugraj Singh (53’) getting himself onto the scoresheet, making it 7-3. Moments later, New Zealand won a penalty corner at the other end of the field, and Nic Woods (54’) found the back of the net, reducing India’s lead to 3 goals. However, New Zealand made no further dents as India ran out winners in a contest that had 11 goals.