Sandeep scores hat trick but India suffer defeat in the opener

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Ipoh (Malaysia), May 8 (UNI) India's hockey woes continued unabated as they squandered a 2-0 lead to go down 3-4 to Olympic qualifier New Zealand in the opener of the Azlan Shah Cup tournament here today.

India, who failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 80-years in March in Chile and had finished fourth in the two-leg four Nation tourney in Australia last week, could not break the jinx once again and threw away a match which they should have won.

Drag flicker Sandeep Singh scored a hat trick as he converted three penalty corners that came his way but the spirited Kiwis staged a stuper comeback scoring twice in each half to start their campaign with a stunning win.

At half time, the teams were levelled 2-2. For the winners, Andrew Hayward, Simon Child, Phillip Burrows and Gareth Brooks chipped in with a goal each.

India opened the game with a flourish as they put the pressure on the rival defence from the very start and that paid dividends as they forced two quick penalty corners and Sandeep Singh justified his recall by converting both of them.

Surprisingly, a defensive lapse by the Indians midway through the first session gave the Kiwis a chance to get back into the game as they forced their first penalty corner.

Andrew Hayward made no mistake in converting the penalty corner to reduce the gap (1-2) and then just before the lemon break Simon Child deflected home a pass to draw parity at 2-2.

The Indians looked totally off colour in the second session as the Kiwis unleashed a flurry of incisive attacks on their citadel.

As the Kiwis dominated the mid field,the Indians fell back to defend their goal thus allowing their rivals to dictate the procedings.

The fast and agile Kiwis rattled the Indians by putting up tremendous pressure and that yielded them handsome results.

The Indian resistance collapsed against the rampaging Kiwis and they let in two quick goals to trail 2-4.

Philip Burrows put the Kiwis ahead and then Gareth Brooks pumped in one more goal as the Indian defence threw in the towel.

India tried to counter but their forwards proved poor marksmen. However, they managed to force one more penalty corner and Sandeep again made no mistake as he beat the Kiwi defence with a rasping drive.

Having reduced the margin, the Indians went flat out on the offensive for the equaliser but it turned out to be a case of too little too late.

The Kiwis beefed up their defence and the Indians found it impossible to get through that crowded area.

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