India hold New Zealand 1-1, win hockey series 2-1

Christchurch, Oct 11 (IANS) India held hosts New Zealand to a 1-1 stalemate in the concluding game, thus winning the four-match hockey series 2-1 here on Sunday.

Nick Ross helped the hosts surge into the lead in the 41st minute but two minutes later it was experienced striker S.V. Sunil who equalised for India.

The first quarter of the game witnessed a series of attacks coming in from the tourists who dominated the entire session. After a brilliant effort from centre-half Sardar Singh, in the 11th minute India were awarded with a penalty corner but Rupinder Pal Singh’s effort went off the target.

New Zealand then started putting some pressure on the Indian defence with a long pass from Blair Tarrant which found Nic Woods in a goal scoring position but an alert Indian defence blocked his attack.

Dying moments of the first quarter saw forward Akashdeep Singh get a chance to open the account but his attempt went wide of the post. The score line remained 0-0 as first quarter saw no goals from either side.

In the second quarter of the match, the Black Sticks dominated the early part with attack from left side of the pitch which earned them a penalty corner, but goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh brilliantly thwarted it.

This was followed by the India’s counter-attack as they broke through the Kiwi defence by an unmarked Dharamvir Singh, whose strong shot on goal was blocked by the New Zealand keeper. At the half-time it was 0-0.

After the breather, both the teams tried to find the opening goal but could not find a way through. Finally in the 41st minute, the game witnessed the first strike coming from the stick of Ross, who collected the pass from Steve Edwards and finished calmly past Sreejesh to give New Zealand a 1-0 lead.

The visitors were quick to respond and in the 43rd minute, Sunil restored parity for India with a field goal.

The last quarter started with equal zeal as the hosts got a great chance to take the lead in the early minutes with seasoned attacker Simon Child running into the Indian rearguard but a vigilant defence refused to bulge an inch and negated the threat.

Riding on series of attacks, New Zealand earned a penalty corner in the 54th minute but Sreejesh, diving to his left, brilliantly made a superb save.

As the scores remained locked at 1-1, India kept the possession in the dying moments of the game to earn a draw and clinch the series 2-2.

India also had defeated New Zealand A twice before playing the host’s national side.

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