New Zealand beats India but final spot in Azlan Shah Cup not assured yet

  • Hockey
  • Wednesday, 13 Apr 2016

India's Manpreet Singh trying to get past New Zealand's Arun Panchia during their Sultan Azlan Shah International Men Hockey tournament in Ipoh. SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star

IPOH: Defending champions New Zealand completed their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup fixtures by beating India 2-1 – but they are still not assured of a place in the final yet.

The Kiwis will have to wait for the outcome of India’s match against Malaysia on Friday to know their fate.

If India beat Malaysia, then India will meet Australia in the final.

In Wednesday’s match at the Azlan Shah Stadium, the first-half was a cagey affair, with both New Zealand and India struggling to cope with the searing heat.

It took the Black Sticks, as New Zealand are known, 28 minutes to break the deadlock, when Kane Russell’s penalty corner drive was deflected off the stick of Manpreet Singh past goalkeeper Harjot Singh.

India hit back in the 36th minute via another deflection. This time, Talwinder Singh’s shot inside the box was deflected into goal by Mandeep Singh for the equaliser.

Nick Wilson got the winning goal for the Kiwis when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up in India’s box in the 41st minute.

New Zealand coach Colin Batch was happy with his team’s game management and possession.

“In international hockey, possession is important. We allowed them to come back in the third quarter, but we bounced back,” he said.

“Today was a little bit hotter compared to our last match. You can feel that on the ground.”

India coach Roelant Oltmans praised New Zealand for being able to get good results despite playing under searing conditions.

“Respect for New Zealand. They played three consecutive early matches,” he said.

“I’m disappointed with the result, but we had our chances. It was nice to beat Pakistan on Tuesday, but this defeat does not mean that the tournament is over.”

In another match, Australia continued their sterling form in the tournament when they beat bottom-placed Japan 3-1.

Australia got their goals through veteran Jamie Dwyer (17th and 36th minutes) and Blacke Govers (30th) while Japan replied through Kentaro Fukuda (37th).
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