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India rally to beat New Zealand 2-1

February 22, 2009 16:16 IST

Conceding an early goal jolted India out of inertia and the visitors outplayed New Zealand 2-1 in the second Test of the four-match hockey series at the National Stadium in Wellington on Sunday.

The home side took the early lead with Simon Child sounding the board in the fourth minute. Stung by the jolt, Tushar Khandekar restored parity for India in the 30th minute while skipper Sandeep Singh produced the match-winner with a penalty corner conversion in the 55th minute to give his side a 1-0 lead in the series.

India, who came up with a vastly improved performance as compared to Saturday's 1-1 draw, could have won by a bigger margin but for the profligate forwards who missed chances galore.

It was the Kiwis who again jolted the Indians as early as in the fourth minute when midfielder Bradley Shaw sent a nice ball down the left past Indian right-half Gurbaj Singh to Child who pushed home from an acute angle beyond the reach of goalkeeper Baljit Singh.

The Indians, however, regrouped immediately and took control of the proceedings. They dominated the midfield with Sardar Singh, Arjun Halappa, Khandekar and Prabodh Tirkey denying space to the Kiwis.

The midfield quartet created several chances for forwards Shivendra Singh and Rajpal Singh but good defence by the New Zealanders thwarted them until five minutes before the breather when Khandekar received a free hit from Sandeep Singh, turned and nailed a reverse stick shot from close range to make it 1-1.

India missed several chances to break into the lead after interval but their forwards either hit the post or were narrowly off the target. Efforts from Shivendra, Rajpal, Khandekar, SV Sunil and Hari Prasad all did not bore fruit.

The dominating visitors were, however, not to be denied a well-deserved victory as 15 minutes from the regulating finish Sandeep stepped up for his third penalty corner and finally hit the back of the net with his drag-flick.

The Black Sticks got a final opportunity to equalise in the last minute but Richard Petherick's flick flew over the goal.

A relieved India coach-in-charge Harendra Singh said that his wards played the best match of the tour so far but was also worried about the poor finishing by the forwards.

"The scoreline should have been much bigger," he said.

India next play two matches against an Invitational XI side before taking on the New Zealand national side for the third Test in Auckland on February 28.

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