India loses to New Zealand, misses final berth

The Indian men's hockey team's quest for a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games came to an end as it suffered a 3-2 loss against New Zealand.

Action from the semifinal game between New Zealand and India on Friday.   -  Getty Images

India's quest for a coveted gold medal in men's hockey came to an abrupt end on Friday as it suffered a 3-2 loss against New Zealand in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, at the Gold Coast hockey centre. The Indian men will now face England for a shot at the bronze medal.

The strategy of meeting the Kiwis in the semifinals was, undoubtedly, a well-thought one. But the plan didn't bear fruit as New Zealand raced to a quick lead and played a strong defence to thwart the Indians.

AS IT HAPPENED

The start was even but the early New Zealand goal brought about a sea of change in the pattern of the game. The Kiwis found that crucial goal when Hugo Inglis, after barging in swiftly, got the ball past a helpless P. R. Sreejesh with a finely executed reverse flick.

The counters launched by India to negate this lead did not work out, as the New Zealand defence was quick to close in and carefully prevented India from maintaining any ball possession.

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New Zealand's second goal was a result of some shabby Indian defence. Manpreet Singh left the ball unchallenged and provided an opportunity for Stephen Jenness to remain in control of the slick counter and put the ball through the legs of Sreejesh.

However, the Indians were able to pull one back in the dying minutes of the first-half when a rash challenge from the Kiwi captain Arun Panchia resulted in a penalty corner favouring India, which then resulted in a penalty stroke as the conversion of the set piece hit Shea McAleese on the line. Hamanpreet Singh made no mistake as he found the net to give his side a ray of hope.

The third quarter of the game was fiercely fought as the Indians staged multiple attack, while the Kiwis smartly defending their citadel, resulting in a rush of penalty corners. The Indians were, however, failed to capitalise on the chances.

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Meanwhile, Marcus Child restored the Kiwi's two-goal buffer by scoring from close.
India struggled hard to catch up but could only reduce the lead as Hamanpreet scored another one with three minutes left on the clock, but it was too little too late.

In the other semifinal, Australia dug deep to defeat England 2-1.

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