Four Nations Hockey Tournament: New Zealand Beat India 3-2 to Enter Final
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Melbourne: India will have to settle for a 3rd/4th place play-off against Malaysia on Sunday, as they went down to New Zealand 3-2 in a hard fought thrilling encounter at the 4 Nations Invitational Tournament on Saturday.
India dominated the position in the The first quarter, creating multiple circle penetrations but were unable to offer clear opportunities on goal.
It was New Zealand who came closest to scoring, off a reverse hit from the top of the box by Nick Ross seemingly headed to the bottom corner. Akash Chikte was alert to the danger though, smartly saving to ensure the scores stayed level.
India picked up the pace in the second quarter, and started pressing high up the pitch every time they lost the ball.
It paid dividends in the 18th minute, as Akashdeep Singh robbed New Zealand of the ball near the circle and drove in, only for the attack to be smothered by George Enersen. Off the rebound, Akashdeep struck a first time shot on goal, but the ball caught the foot of Kane Russell, resulting in a stroke for India. Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake from the spot, dispatching the ball into the bottom left to give India the lead.
The teams went into half time with India leading 1-0.
In the third quarter, the teams went at each other with furious attacking intent, and again it was Chikte's agility that prevented New Zealand from scoring an equaliser.
A long cross field ball found Matt Rees-Gibbs at the far post and simple contact would've seen it sound the board. Chikte though dived at full stretch to block away the attempt and kept India in the lead.
Nikkin Thimmaiah had an attempt from the top of the box, after a superb bit of improvisation, but saw his effort sail high. India led 1-0 going into the final break.
India started creating attacking opportunities but New Zealand got a third via Hugo Inglis in the 57th minute.
Rupinder Pal Singh converted a penalty corner for India to pull one back for India to take his tally to five goals in the tournament.
In the final minutes, India created several opportunities to draw level, but New Zealand held on for a 3-2 win.
The Kiwis will now take on Australia in the final while India lock horns against Malaysia in the 3rd/4th place play-offs.
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