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Hockey: New Zealand draw against India 1-1

February 28, 2009 17:30 IST

Skipper Sandeep Singh-led Indian defense faltered in the dying moments to allow New Zealand vice-captain Dean Couzins sound the boards and help the hosts draw the third and penultimate hockey Test between the two sides 1-1 in Auckland on Saturday.

With this draw, the Black Sticks kept alive the series with India going into tomorrow's series decider with a 1-0 lead after winning the second Test 2-1.

The visitors had drawn the opening Test against the hosts 1-1 in Wellington last week.

India started the proceedings today on a confident note and dominated the match for the most part of the opening half.

India opened the scoring against the run of play in the 13th minute when a lapse from New Zealand defense allowed India centre forward Shivendra Singh into the circle and he made no mistake in nailing home a waist-high shot.

Soon after taking 1-0 lead, the confident Indian players employed a series of fast breaking counter attacks, but to no avail.

India survived a scare just before halftime when Nick Wilson went close to equalising after picking up an aerial pass from Joel Baker.

Wilson got stick to the ball but could not gain control of the difficult pass and pushed it over the top of the post.

However, New Zealand came out rejuvenated after the change of ends and responded well to their coach Shane McLeod's call for increased ball speed and tempo.

The Black Sticks worked hard to get back on level terms after conceding the early goal. They earned as many as three penalty corners in the second half against the visitors' none, but every time Indian custodian Bajit Singh came to his side's rescue.

Baljit was as usual outstanding in front of the goal, making several crucial saves, including a strong Richard Petherick drag flick and cracking reverse follow up shot on the rebound by Simon Child.

However, Baljit's heroics went in vain as Couzins found his target with just seconds from the hooter when he skillfully picked up a free hit from Phil Burrows to push home from close range.

Last match of the tour will be played tomorrow at the same venue.

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