Hockey: Poor defence denies India win against Kiwis

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Rotterdam, June 17:  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.

It was, however, the 11th ranked Indians who had far more possession, more penetration at the opposition striking circle and more shots at target in the fast-paced and entertaining match though they were let down by poor defence in the end.

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 today'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.

All the eight teams -- four each in the two pools -- will still play in the quarterfinal phase as the preliminary matches are only meant to decide who plays whom in the knock-out stage. The last-place team of one pool plays the topper of the other pool and so on.


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