Mandeep scores brace as India down New Zealand 4-3 in Pro League opener | Hockey News


It’s a new season of Pro League but India continued their old practice of scoring goals at the very end.
On Friday, India were trailing 2-3 against New Zealand at the end of the third quarter in their Pro League opener at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
But just like the innumerable instances during last season, the hosts did not give up till the very end and Mandeep Singh scored two goals in the 52nd and 57th minute to help India win the game 4-3.
Apart from the two goals, Mandeep, who won the player of the match award, also helped India win the penalty stroke which Harmanpreet Singh converted in the 42nd minute to make it 2-3 for the hosts.
Even after India took the lead in the fourth quarter, New Zealand had the opportunity to equalise when they won three back-to-back penalty corners in the final minute of the match. But goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak did enough to keep the visitors from scoring and help India start the new season on a high.
Although India won, their defenders had a poor day in the field as they conceded as many as nine penalty corners. Compared to that, New Zealand gave away only one. On a positive note, Mohammed Raheel, who was making his international debut in the 11-a-side game, had a good game and looked quite promising.
However, what stood out was how often India kept playing the aerial balls. Be it over long or short distances, the players kept using it to good use. And only on a few occasions did they fail to find their man.
As for New Zealand, they will be gutted to not have won the game despite leading 3-1 at one point of time. They will now have to regroup fast and prepare themselves for the match against Spain on Saturday. As for India they will take on the Spaniards on Sunday.
Earlier, Mandeep Mor gave India a dream start when he put the hosts in the lead just a minute away from the end of the first quarter. It was an inch perfect pass from Nilakanta Sharma from just outside the D towards Mor standing on the right and completely unchecked.
Mor had no trouble collecting it, made a small run into the D and slammed the ball into the net between the legs of goalkeeper Dominic Dixon, who should have done better but was undone by the pace of the ball. It was Mor’s first international goal.
After that it was all New Zealand as they penetrated India’s defences with ease.
First, Sam Lane made it 1-1 when he converted a penalty stroke in the 23rd minute. Jake Smith then made it 2-1 five minutes into the second quarter. It was a lovely play down the right near the backline by New Zealand and Simon Child played it to Smith, who dived and deflected the ball above incoming Sreejesh. A minute later Lane made it 3-1 as he scored his second after New Zealand won their third PC of the night.
They did have innumerable chances to take the game away from India after that but failed to convert those. Instead, India roared back into the game with a dominating show in the last 20 minutes.


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