Jul 24, 2021

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: India survives last minute scare to beat New Zealand 3-2

 It is never a dull moment with Indian hockey team. Ghosts of last minutes were once again visible as
Harmanpreet Singh scored two goals for India

Indian hockey team that saw Indian hockey fans hold their breaths as Indian defense bailed out the team against New Zealand in their opening match of Tokyo 2020. Earlier two goals by Harmanpreet and one goal by Rupinder Pal Singh put India in an advantageous position against ninth ranked New Zealand team.

Traditionally a slow starter in big events, Indian team management would have felt relieved with the win against the team that has been a bogey for India

As it was expected before the game, early jitters of big event caught both the teams as there was scrappy start to the game. After exchange of early barbs, India had a great chance of taking the lead in the game after India won a penalty corner, but Rupinder Pal Singh’s drag flick hit the bar that denied India a lead.

Rattling of the crossbar seem to wake Black Sticks up as they upped the ante and won a penalty corner themselves. Penalty Corner expert Kane Russell made no mistake and converted the penalty corner to give New Zealand 1-0 lead.

With Indian midfield taken out of equation by man marking, Indian defenders had to step up and they started pushing in long ball to help India level the score. The strategy worked with Rupinder Pal Singh winning penalty corner that helped India level through a penalty stroke.

India survived multiple scares in Q1 as New Zealand won 4 back-to-back penalty corners. However, Indian defense was once again vigilant and denied New Zealand any chance to score.

As the nerves calmed down, the play opened and in 26th minute of the game Harmanpreet converted penalty corner to give India 2-1 lead. Q3 start was brilliant for India, with Harmanpreet Singh again scoring to give India 3-1 lead. It did not take long for New Zealand to reply, and they scored a field goal to reduce the margin 3-2.

Quite a lot has been said and written about Indian team and the last minutes of the game. Today was no different as India were put to test by Black Sticks in the final few minutes of the game. Some clever work with referrals and great defending by Sreejesh helped India keep New Zealand from scoring. The final hooter brought relief to both hockey fans and players as Indian team won their first game of Olympics.

India will next take on Australia tomorrow, who too had an interesting outing against Japan. The way first two games have been played, it is surely going to be a nail-biting match tomorrow

Goal scorers
India- Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh (2)
New Zealand- Kane Russell, Stephen Jenness


No comments:

Post a Comment