Nelson (New Zealand), Oct 6 (IANS) The experience gained by winning two practice matches against New Zealand A did not help the Indian hockey team as the visitors lost the opener of the four-match bilateral Test series 0-2 to the Black Sticks here on Tuesday.
India had beaten New Zealand A 3-1 and 2-1 in the two practice games in Auckland on October 2 and 3 but that did not help the Asian team as the Sardar Singh-led side tamely went down to the hosts.
The game started with good pace as spectators witnessed both teams getting into their business side of the field whenever they got the opportunities. But it was New Zealand’s early goal which helped them take the edge in the contest.
The Black Sticks went ahead in the fifth minute when they were awarded a penalty corner. Nick Haig was bang on target, flicking the ball past India’s custodian P.R. Sreejesh in the top right corner of the goal.
India intensified the attack when Nikkin Thimmaih, from the right flank, pushed the ball inside the opponent’s D but a vigilant New Zealand defence denied the visitors any chance of scoring.
India held possession at the start of the second quarter and kept attacking the New Zealand semi-circle from the right flank. Akashdeep Singh pushed the ball to Ramandeep Singh who failed to capitalise on the pass.
New Zealand counter-attacked in the 27th minute when Jared Panchia scored through a field effort, taking the score to 2-0 going into halftime.
The third and fourth quarters saw both teams trying to add to the scorecard but the defences of both proved stronger in thwarting the attempts.
In the third quarter forward Thimmaiah had a great chance inside the D but the Kiwis held him back and India were yet again denied a goal.
This was immediately followed by Birendra Lakra trying to cash in on another opportunity but was denied once again.
The next match between the two sides will be played here on Wednesday.