New Zealand chalked up a 3-1 win over India who thus slid to their second defeat in as many matches in the Olympic men’s hockey competition here yesterday.
India, after a sensational start when Sandeep Singh converted a second minute penalty corner, faded away as the Kiwis came storming back with goals by Andrew Hayward (13th), Phillip Burrows (24th) and Nicolas Wilson (29th), and then nursed the lead to the end.
It was a very disappointing performance by the Indians who just did not have the pace or power to overwhelm the Kiwis.
Rather, age-old errors seemed to creep into India’s game with badly positioned forwards inside the striking circle, over-dribbling and lack of variety in their attacks.
In the deep defence, too, the Indians looked a step slower than the Kiwis and, more often than not, struggled to get the ball away from the danger zone.
So much so that for the second-half coach Michael Nobbs replaced captain and goalkeeper Bharat Chetri with Sreejesh, who justified the substitution with a couple of good saves.
In contrast, the Black Sticks, who had beaten India 5-1 en route to winning the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia earlier this summer, appeared better organised in the midfield and deep defence while the forwards bided time for the long balls to counter attack.
In fact, the Kiwi defenders seemed to read the Indian attacks rather well and had enough men behind the ball to stall the rivals.
India, who went down 2-3 to the Netherlands on Monday, promised a lot in the opening minutes when they forced a penalty corner that Sandeep Singh converted, picking a brilliant angle and height to slot the drag-flick into the net.
However, the Kiwis kept their composure and gradually came back into the match while the Indians backpedalled at the first sign of counter-attack and provided a lot of space for the Black Sticks to make their moves.
The Kiwis, who lost 0-2 to Korea in their opening game, accepted the invitation and began to attack in waves and forced two penalty corners, the second of which Hayward converted for the equaliser.