India must turn the tables against Kiwis to remain in hunt

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London, Jul 31: After going down fighting against the Netherlands 2-3, the Indians will look to turn the tables in their next match against New Zealand, who also lost their opening game against the Koreans by two goals. The two sides will meet at the Riverbank Arena on Wednesday.

The Indian team, which is playing in the Olympics after eight years, will still remember the 1-5 hammering they got against the Black Sticks in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament a few months ago in Malaysia and will need to better that performance by quite a few notches if it has to progress for the medal hunt. The Indians were outplayed by a superior Dutch side in their opening match despite making a comeback at 2-2 while the Kiwis failed to score any goal against Korea.

The Black Sticks have virtually brought the same side that had taken the field at the Azlan Shah tournament although they did not match the Koreans by speed and adopted a more defensive strategy, a repetition of which could land in trouble against the Indians as well. India's frontline is a strong one but the forwards need to tighten up things in the striking zones.

New Zealand, although ranked three places above, are a comparatively easier opponent and the Indians can not afford to miss points in this match. They will face two tough opponents in Germany and Korea in back-to-back matches later this week. India will look forward to Sandeep Singh and Sardara Singh. Besides the two scorers from India's first match, Dharamvir Singh and Shivendra Singh, will be the key players.

Indian coach Michael Nobbs will also be concerned about the team's defence, which look shaky at times. Like against Holland, they caved in under pressure to concede the decisive third goal.

Wednesday's match will be a battle of nerves for sure with both teams looking for their first points. Whoever sustains the pressure will win.

India versus New Zealand: Olympic encounters

India won 3-0 at 1960 Rome Games, group match
Lost 1-2 at 1968 Mexico City Games, group match
India won 3-2 at 1972 Munich Games, group match
India won 1-0 (extra time) at 1984 Los Angeles Games, classification match
India won 3-2 at 1992 Barcelona Games, classification match
Lost 1-2 at 2004 Athens Games, group match

India have a 4-2 advantage over New Zealand in Olympic encounters and will look to add on that gap. The match starts at 18.15 IST.

Team Profiles: India, New Zealand

See Points Tables: Men's, Women's

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