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India start strong in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

India start strong in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

It has been a very strong beginning for the Indian National Hockey team in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Ipoh, Malaysia. In the first two matches of this season, India has recorded a 2-2 draw against Great Britain and a superlative 3-0 victory against New Zealand.

The Cup is being played in a league format with 6 participating nations namely India, Australia, Japan, Great Britain, Malaysia and New Zealand. Australia is the defending champions from the last edition. The league began on Saturday with the Indian team facing Great Britain.

The match saw India lead twice but only later to be equalized by the Englishmen. The Indians who scored were Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh. The score was 1-1 till the third quarter and the fourth quarter saw both teams hit the post once. All the matches from Day 1 ended in draws with 2-2 being the highest score.

The second match for India was held today against New Zealand. India emerged as one-sided winners trashing their opponents 3-0 in this match. The first quarter went New Zealand’s way when Mandeep Singh, the scorer from the earlier match was given a green card. But New Zealand could not produce anything in spite of the advantage.

Then with 4 minutes to the end of the second quarter, Chinglesana created the move but his shot going high was placed into the goal by Mandeep Singh. With just a few moments in the second quarter, Harmanpreet placed a penalty past New Zealand’s goalkeeper and the score was 2-0 at the half way point.

The third quarter went goalless with New Zealand trying to push through and penetrate the Indian defence. India too did not sit back. Akashdeep took a try from a very narrow-angle in the 39th minute, but the shot went over the bar. In the final quarter, Harmanpreet converted another penalty corner and the final scored was settled at 3-0. it was a shining display of defence by the Indian squad. The forwards too did not fail to impress.

New Zealand looked to be in fine touch by acquiring two PCs at the beginning of the game but could not convert them over the likes of Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh. Indian received a total of 7 penalty corners of which 6 were taken by the in form Harmanpreet. One was taken by Rupinderpal Singh which was blocked by the Kiwi goalkeeper.

India’s next outing is against Australia on Tuesday which is being considered as their toughest bout in the tournament as the Aussies are the defending champions. The last time India faced the Australians the results went 4-0 against India in the final of previous Sultan Azlan Shah Cup finals. But with confidence seeping through the Indian camp we can expect no less of a contest from them.

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