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India drop points to New Zealand

Source: PTI
June 09, 2009 19:05 IST
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India frittered away numerous chances and had to settle for a disappointing 2-2 draw against New Zealand in their second opening round group match of the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup at the Seng Kang Sports Complex in Singapore on Tuesday.

The Black Sticks, who led 2-1 at the lemon break, scored from two stray chances, while the Indian forwards missed easy opportunities.

Captain Diwakar Ram disappointed, converting only one of the six penalty-corners India earned.

For India Diwakar (13th minute) and Pramod Kumar (37th) were on target, while New Zealand's marksmen were the Child brothers -- Simon and Marcus -- in the 10th and 32nd minute respectively.

Both India and New Zealand have four points from two outings while Holland are atop Group D with six points from two outright wins.

India next plays mighty Holland on Thursday.

India should have broken the ice in the eighth minute but inside forward Pramod slammed the ball over the crosspiece.

A minute later, right-winger Mandeep Antil squandered another easy chance, shooting wide.

Kiwi skipper Simon Child gave his side the lead against the run of the play in the tenth minute. He seized a loose ball atop the striking circle, dodged past defender Innocent Kullu and then wrong-footed custodian Mrinal Choubey before gently tapping the ball into the Indian goal with a reverse stick.

However, India drew parity shortly after, Diwakar making no mistake in finding the net with a low drag flick past Kiwi custodian Devon Manchester, from their first penalty-corner, in the 13th minute.

But from thereon, India lost their grip and momentum and committed numerous errors mainly because of wayward passing amongst their midfielders and forwards.

The Indian errors ultimately bore fruit for their opponents late in the opening half when central midfielder Arun Panchia set up an unmarked Marcus Child, who wrong-footed Indian goalkeeper Choubey and sent home the ball to take his side into the breather with a 2-1 lead.

After the breather, the Indians steeped on the accelerator and restored parity within two minutes. Antil and Pramod combined well on the right before the latter pushed the ball into an empty goal after drawing out Kiwi goalkeeper Manchester.

However, India wasted numerous match-winning chances in the second session as Diwakar squandered as many as five penalty-corners and the forward line, comprising Mohammad Amir Khan, Danish Mujtaba and Dharamvir Singh, muffed many scoring opportunities.

Meanwhile, in a Group A match, defending champions Argentina defeated Belgium 3-0.

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