Forwards in focus as India face New Zealand (Preview)

Nelson (New Zealand), Oct 5 (IANS) Boosted by the in-form attackers, the Indian men’s hockey team will look to registering the third consecutive win of their New Zealand tour when they face the Kiwi national team here on Tuesday.

India won 3-1 and 2-1 in the first two matches against the host’s A side. But Tuesday onwards, it will not be easy for World No.8 India against the New Zealand national squad, who are ranked seventh.

However, with attacking midfielder S.K. Uthappa, forwards Nikkin Thimmaiah, Akashdeep Singh, S.V. Sunil and Ramandeep Singh in good form, it will not be a surprise if they yet again pull off a stunner and get the team on a winning note.

Both the teams played against each other during the Hero Hockey World league (HWL) Final 2014 in New Delhi and it was the Black Sticks who managed to keep the game in their favour.

It’s been more than a year now that both India and New Zealand played against each other and will be interesting to see how they fare against each other this time around.

While New Zealand will have the edge in terms of playing in front of their home crowd, India with two wins in their kitty will be high on spirits and will aim to continue their form in the upcoming clashes.

The Indian team has already proved that they are hungry to win and they understand the value of an early goal. With this in mind the team will hope that they manage to sneak in the opponents penalty area early.

India chief coach and high performance director Roelant Oltmans is also pleased with the performance of his attacking unit.

“The last two matches was good learning for us and in a way has got us familiar to the circumstances here. What is working in our favour are the field goals and which in a way showcases the team’s ability to break the defence chain to enter the opponents circle and even our coordination during those few seconds,” the Dutch tactician said in a release.

But the 61-year-old demanded more conversion of set-piece movements.

“This is a good sign and I hope we continue this. Also from here we will aim to get more penalty corners and convert them.”

Indian vice-captain and goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh has also been consistent in thwarting rival raids.

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