India clinch Bronze at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

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India's Sunil Sowmarpet, second left, celebrates with his teammate Surender Kumar, left after scoring India's third goal during the 3rd place play off for the men's field hockey match against New Zealand at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, Saturday, May 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Adrian Hoe)

India flaunted its dominance over New Zealand in the third place match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup today. The latter lost 4-0 at the hands of the Indians. It was a thumping answer to all the critics who were questioning the Indian team after their defeat against Malaysia yesterday.

India stood third in the table with 7 seven points after 5 league games. Indian wins included a 3-0 victory against today’s rivals and a 4-3 victory over Japan. In the opening match, India drew with Great Britain who, on the last day took a 3 point lead from India on the table. India had also suffered losses from the defending champions Australia and the hosts in the league.

India started the proceedings on the front foot against the Kiwis. The first five minutes of the match saw 2 PCs being awarded to the Indians. But unfortunately, they both went goalless. The next chance for India came in the 13th minute when Manpreet forwarded a great pass towards Mandeep standing in front. But Mandeep could not steer the ball into the post. Though the Indian guns were all blazing, they were not able to convert any of their chances in the first quarter as the score remained 0-0.

In the second quarter too, Indians dominated with possession. Another PC was awarded to India in the 17th minute. This time Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake and shot the ball past the New Zealand goalkeeper into the goal. The Indian goal drought was finally over. India continued to dominate after the goal and the 27th minute saw another PC to India. This time too Rupinder swept the ball past the Kiwi defence into the goal. As the half-time whistle blew, the scorecard showed 2-0 for India.

The third quarter went as per India’s expectations as they prevented the Kiwis from finding any shot at the goal. As the fourth quarter started the bronze medal was looking firm for India. This was ascertained by a beautiful deflection from Sunil over Mandeep’s pass into the far post making the score 3-0. Coming into the closing minutes of the match, Talwinder bagged another goal and it was 4-0 against the Black Caps.

It was a superlative forward play from the Indian side. They fought with all their will and skill to recover from their recent loss and cement their 3rd position. Their dominance in the field was evident from the first whistle. The Kiwi side failed to produce even a single threatening attack. This was a shameful defeat for the Black Caps who would have hoped for a much better performance from their lads.

In the final match of the Azlan Shah Cup tonight the defending champions Australia will go against Great Britain. It will be an interesting game to look forward to as Australia have a chance to complete their set of 10 cup victories with this win.

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