Azlan Shah: New Zealand down shoddy India 5-1
Indian defence caved in badly while the forward line failed to convert their circle penetrations into goals.
India got off to a shoddy beginning at the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, conceding a 5-1 defeat to New Zealand as the Indian defence faltered tamely and the forwards failed to capitalise on a number of opportunities - which allowed the Black Sticks to run away with a comfortable victory.
Playing on a blue pitch and with yellow balls - similar to what will be on offer at the London Olympics - India went a goal down in the first minute itself after an error from full-back Sandeep Singh. The ball bounced off Sandeep's stick inside the circle and fell in front of Simon Child who just had to tap it in the goal.
However, Shivendra Singh equalised for India as early as the sixth minute when he slotted Birender Lakra's cross into the goal beating the Kiwi custodian Kyle Pontifex. New Zealand upped the ante thereafter securing three penalty corners in the 16th, 18th and 19th minutes but were kept out - largely by goalkeeper P Sreejesh who started ahead of skipper Bharat Chetri, with Sardar Singh leading the side.
India picked themselves up in the last 15 minutes of the first half, enjoying more of the possession. Sadly, they couldn't convert it into goals. Instead, New Zealander Andy Hayward put his team ahead once again in the 35th minute off a penalty corner and the hooter sounded at 2-1 in favour of the Black Sticks.
India began encouragingly in the second half by earning two penalty corners - in the 40th and 45th minutes. But with their ace drag-flicker Sandeep benched on both the occasions, Raghunath failed to sound the board. India then found themselves down 3-1 when Nick Wilson neatly deflected a pass from Shea McAlesse that went through Sreejesh's legs in the 58th minute.
Three minutes later, the Black Sticks made it 4-1 when Stephen Jenness had enough time on hand to find his mark to perfection. New Zealand completed the rout in the 65th minute with Matt L'hullier getting himself on the score sheet.