Azlan Shah: India blanks Kiwis

India came up with extraordinary skills to excel against New Zealand as it defeated New Zealand 3-0 in its second match at the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament here on an entertaining Sunday.

Harmanpreet Singh was instrumental in the win with a brace.   -  Getty Images

India came up with extraordinary skills to excel against New Zealand as it defeated New Zealand 3-0 in its second match at the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament here on an entertaining Sunday.

It was India’s 2016 Junior World Cup winners Mandeep Singh (23’) and Harmanpreet Singh (27’ and 47’), who scored for India while the defence led by Rupinder Pal Singh and Surender Kumar ensured there were no hiccups. Though the first quarter ended in a stalemate, New Zealand had pushed India on the backfoot right at the start as it attacked with speed and precision.

The Black Sticks kept goalkeeper P. R Sreejesh busy through the first 15 minutes, forcing him to make goal-denying saves. New Zealand was the first to earn a Penalty Corner in the sixth minute when its attacker found Pradeep Mor’s foot in the circle. But Sreejesh denied dragger Sam Lane’s well-executed flick.

S.V Sunil came close to scoring in the 12th minute for India when he was assisted by Harmanpreet Singh. However, he couldn’t get the right connection as his shot lacked power.

The second quarter, however, belonged to India as it took an impressive 2-0 lead. It came out of the first break with an improvised game, made clever forays with innovative formations into the striking circle and found success in the 23rd minute when Junior World Cup winner Sumit and Chinglensana Kangujam cobined to set-up the goal for forward Mandeep Singh. Mandeep deflected the ball beating Richard Joyce into the post as his strike broke the deadlock.

Later, in the 27th minute, forward Akashdeep Singh found Kiwi defender Alex Shaw’s foot when he was dribbling into the circle. The chance was capitalised by young dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh, who was impeccable with a brilliantly struck flick that comfortably beat New Zealand keeper Richard. India went into the half -time break with a 2-0 lead.

India did well to win its fourth PC within two minutes of the fourth quarter and Harmanpreet Singh was assertive as he struck his second goal of the match. He picked up the ball with precision and sent it high up giving no chance for the New Zealand keeper to save it. India will next take on defending champion Australia on Tuesday.