India bounce back and beat New Zealand in FIH Pro League

Mandeep Singh’s two field goals in the final quarter helped India begin their FIH League campaign with a 4-3 win over New Zealand here on Friday. Mandeep scored in the 51st and 56th minutes. The Indian team was trailing 2-3 at the end of the third quarter. Mandeep Mor (13th) and skipper Harmanpreet Singh (41st) scored for the fifth-ranked team in the world rankings. Sam Lane scored two goals in the 22nd and 35th minutes while Jake Smith scored another goal in the 34th minute for world number 9 New Zealand.

New Zealand initially took a more aggressive approach. Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh defended a long range shot from the start. Although India got the penalty corner of the match but Shamsher Singh could not take advantage of it. Neelkant Sharma gave an accurate pass to Peacock who scored comfortably and New Zealand goalkeeper Dominic Dixon could do nothing. India dominated and were looking to double the lead in the second quarter.

But New Zealand had already leveled by scoring a goal from the penalty corner. Sam Lane’s shot was blocked by Surender Kumar. The visiting team took a review, which showed that the ball touched Surender’s leg and then Lane scored a goal from the corner. Soon after New Zealand got another penalty corner but this time it was stopped by Krishan Bahadur Pathak and Simon Child’s attempt failed. The score was level at 1-1 after the first half.

The match was an exciting third quarter, with New Zealand scoring two goals in the 34th and 35th minutes. India scored a penalty in the 41st minute with the help of captain Harmanpreet to make the score 2-3. At the end of the third quarter the team was with 10 players as Sumit was shown a yellow card (out of play for 10 minutes). New Zealand scored two penalty corners but did not score. In the final quarter, India played with 10 players for seven minutes after which Mandeep scored two goals to give victory to the team. Mohammad Raheel made his debut for India. India will now play Spain here on Sunday.

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