India men thrash NZ 5-0 to win Olympic Test Event
Tokyo, Aug 21 (IANS) The Indian men's hockey team avenged their round robin league-stage loss as they thrashed New Zealand 5-0 in the final to win the Olympic Test Event at the Oi Stadium on Wednesday.
Skipper Harmanpreet Singh (7') set the ball rolling before Shamsher Singh (18'), Nilakanta Sharma (22'), Gursahibjit Singh (26') and Mandeep Singh (27') scored for the Men in Blue.
India and New Zealand began the match on a cautious note by turning over the ball in the midfield region. India won a penalty corner in the seventh minute, but couldn't capitalise on the opportunity.
However, Harmanpreet didn't miss out on a penalty corner when the PC was re-awarded to India. The Indian skipper executed a perfect dragflick to put India in the lead.
The Indian team continued to hold possession and put tremendous pressure on the New Zealand defence as they ended the first quarter at 1-0.
India didn't let the momentum shift as Shamsher scored India's second goal through a penalty corner in the 18th minute. New Zealand managed to make only two circle entries in the second quarter as the Indian team scored three more goals.
Nilakanta found the back of the net in the 22nd minute before Gursahibjit and Mandeep scored in quick succession. Vivek Prasad intercepted the ball brilliantly to assist a goal for Gursahibjit and Mandeep converted a penalty corner just before the half-time whistle. India completely dominated the match with the scoreline reading 5-0.
After an action-packed first half, the intensity dropped from both the sides. New Zealand tried to make a few inroads in the third quarter. They took a shot in the 37th minute which went wide of the post and Jarmanpreet Singh saved a penalty corner in the next minute. India and New Zealand played out a goalless quarter as the former held the lead at 5-0.
The Indian team ensured that they stayed in the lead in the last quarter. They didn't allow New Zealand to break through their defence throughout the match. India's attacking approach in the match paid off as they walked off the pitch as winners of the competition.