New Zealand and India went into the match in search of a first win in the tournament. The Kiwis played to a 1-1 draw against defending champions and World No 2 Australia in Saturday’s opening encounter while the Indians, placed 6th in the FIH world Rankings, emerged with a 2-2 draw after a gruelling session against Great Britain.
New Zealand has had the upper hand over India in the last two editions of the tournament – winning 2-1 respectively in the 2015 and 2016 editions.
The World No 8 Black Sticks took control of the game in the early proceedings, earning the first penalty corner six minutes into the match but Nick Ross powerful drive from top of the D was cleared by veteran goalkeeper P. Sreejesh, hardly posing any threat to the Indians as the first quarter ended in a scoreless stalemate.
Led by SV Sunil, who earned his 200th international cap today, India’s attacking machinery got its act together in the second quarter with a series of quick counter attacks, earned three penalty corners and broke the deadlock. Mandeep Singh deflected a bouncing ball past Harry Gibson in the 23rd minute via open play to go 1-0 ahead and Harmanpreet Singh swept a powerful drag flick three minutes before the end of the quarter to double the score.
The Black Sticks pressed on for goals in the third quarter but were curtailed in their plans by a fortified Indian defence and could not make any headway, unlike in the first quarter.
On the opposite end, Roelant Oltmans India continued where they left off by scoring the third goal in the 47th minute off a fourth penalty corner through Man of the Match Harmanpreet and were back in the grove three minutes later with two more penalty corners but could not make any breakthrough.
India now takes on nine-time champions Australia on Tuesday. The Kookaburras defeated India 4-0 in the 2016 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final.