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India play out 3-3 draw against New Zealand

India play out 3-3 draw against New Zealand
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India paid the price of poor defending as they conceded a goal four minutes from time to play out a 3-3 draw in a thrilling match in their last pool fixture of the FIH World League Round 3 match here on Monday.

India, who dominated the match throughout, fought back in a remarkable fashion from a goal down in the first half and took the lead twice only to be denied a win in their last Pool B match by poor defending.

India scored through Mandeep Singh (46th), V R Raghunath (47th) and Kothajit Singh (53rd) while Marcus Child (6th), Stephen Jenness (51st) and Blair Hilton (66th) found the target for New Zealand who are the higher-ranked side at number sixth.

The Indian defence manned by Raghunath, Rupinderpal Singh and Sandeep Singh were found wanting in New Zealand counter attacks as the Balck Sticks scored twice in such fashion. With Monday’s draw, their second in the tournament after their 4-4 result against Ireland in the campaign opener, India ended their pool engagements with two points from three matches.

The Sardar Singh-led side now face the prospect of playing Pool A winners Belgium or runners-up Australia in the knock-out phase which begins on Wednesday.

India put early pressure with some fine moves from both the flanks and earned a penalty corner as early as the third minute but failed to convert it as Rupinderpal Singh’s drag-flick was palmed away by New Zealand goalkeeper Devon Manchester.  

It was, however, New Zealand who took the lead in the sixth minute with Marcus Child making a fine deflection of a sharp hit by Phil Burrows. New Zealand got their first penalty corner in the 19th minute and Mandeep Singh made a fine save on the goal-line after goalkeeper Sreejesh was beaten.

India pressed for the equaliser in frantic pace and they dominated the first session from then on but still could not get a clear chance though they had far more penetration inside the opposition striking circle. Shivendra Singh, Manpreet Singh, Nithin Thimmaiah and S V Sunil worked in tandem in search of the equaliser but New Zealand defence withstood the pressure to go into the breather 1-0 ahead.

 India came out with all guns blazing after resumption and the incessant pressure paid off as they got the eqauliser in the 47th minute through Mandeep Singh.

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