|Sportstar Aces Awards 2023 | VOTE FOR TOP CATEGORIES

Hockey World Cup | India tumbles out after a dramatic shoot-out against New Zealand

An erratic performance, specially after leading by two goals twice, from the host costs it dearly and will now fight for 9-16 places

January 22, 2023 09:57 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:14 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

New Zealand players mob goalkeeper Leon Hayward after his standout performance in the shootout against India during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover matches at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023.

New Zealand players mob goalkeeper Leon Hayward after his standout performance in the shootout against India during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover matches at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023. | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

It took 19 shots in the shootout and the sudden death to separate the two teams but in the end, India was left ruing the multitude of what-ifs as it lost 5-4 on penalties to New Zealand after being tied 3-3 in regulation time in the Hockey World Cup crossover match here on Sunday night. Worse, India lost P.R. Sreejesh for the last three shots through injury and although Krishan Pathak did his best, India’s attackers fumbled under pressure.

India  goalkeeper P.R. Shreejesh sits out injured during the shootout against New Zealand during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover match at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023.

India goalkeeper P.R. Shreejesh sits out injured during the shootout against New Zealand during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover match at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023. | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

It was not the way the team would have imagined its medal hopes would end at home when it took a two-goal lead twice through the game, dominating the Black Sticks for long periods and creating chances upfront that went abegging. It was a much improved performance after the Welsh disappointment but it was not enough against a gritty New Zealand that set up a quarterfinal clash against reigning champion Belgium for its efforts.

The things coach Graham Reid had spoken about that needed work were improved. The forwards backed each other up but did not crowd in. The finishing was more on-target. But the elusive penalty corner conversions continued — India earned 10 and could only convert one, taken by Varun Kumar.

Harmanpreet Singh, the talismanic Indian captain and its best hope to advance, was expected to finally come good but his woes continued — including missing a key shot in the shootout. New Zealand, on the other hand, was two-in-two with its PCs in a space of six minutes.

New Zealand’s  goalkeeper Leon Hayward attemps to block Shamsher’s effort during the shootout in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover match at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023.

New Zealand’s goalkeeper Leon Hayward attemps to block Shamsher’s effort during the shootout in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover match at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023. | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

India’s second half woes also continued, surprising given its dominance in the first. In fact, India got increasingly error-prone in defence as the game progressed, conceding turnovers and mis-passing towards the end.

India started strongly and despite an opening attack from New Zealand, took control and had its first shot at goal in the seventh minute. It kept pushing into the opposition circle from either flank and the forwards, despite missing a few chances, were more in the right positions compared to their previous outing.

A steal in the Indian 25-yard area by Harmanpreet initiated India’s first goal. A long through ball to Akashdeep Singh, sending it to Shamsher before the latter sent a perfectly placed cross to Upadhyay, who took it on the run, took his time to get into position and slammed it into the board in the 18th minute.

India looked to have doubled the lead five minutes later off back-to-back penalty corners but Nilakanta Sharma’s third-shot rebound was cancelled for a backstick from Abhishek in the final pass.  Two minutes later, though, Sukhjeet slotted in a rebound off another PC and this time there was no confusion.

Indian players celebrate after scoring against New Zealand during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover match at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023.

Indian players celebrate after scoring against New Zealand during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 crossover match at the Kalinga hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 22, 2023. | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

India also paid the price for ignoring the key danger men for New Zealand. Veteran Simon Child had been expected to feed Sam Lane and create PCs for Kane Russell and he was everywhere for NZ. Inexplicably, the Indians time and again left him alone and the former took full advantage, repeatedly setting up the latter, creating the PC that Russell converted and made quite a few goalline saves during India’s PCs.

India coach Graham Reid had warned New Zealand would come out full pressing ahead and that’s what the Black Sticks did. They had a few chances themselves with Child being the chief creator of them all for Lane. It was finally a combination of the two, initiated by Sean Findlay, that saw New Zealand pull one back in the 29th minute to go into half-time high on confidence. It continued the momentum and took charge of the third quarter before India fought back in the fourth to no avail.

The host will now have to travel back to Rourkela for the 9-16 classification games.

The result: New Zealand 3 (Sam Lane, Kane Russell, Sean Findlay) drew with India 3 (Lalit Upadhyay, Sukhjeet Singh, Varun Kumar). New Zealand won 5-4 via penalty shoot-out.

Top News Today

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.