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The Hindu: Olympic Test Double delight for Indian hockey (8/22/2019)
The Hindu: Olympic Test Double delight for Indian hockey

Men wallop New Zealand to land title; women get past host Japan

The Indian men’s and women’s hockey team won the Olympic Test event here on Wednesday. While the men defeated New Zealand 5-0, the women’s team put it past Japan 2-1 with goals from Navjot Kaur and Lalremsiami.

The men’s team thus avenged the loss it endured in it’s round robin clash.

Captain Harmanpreet Singh (7th minute) set the ball rolling before Shamsher Singh (18), Nilakanta Sharma (22), Gursahibjit Singh (26) and Mandeep Singh (27) scored for India at the Oi Hockey Stadium here.

India had lost 1-2 to New Zealand earlier in round robin league-stage.

“We played very well. We managed to make the most of our opportunities at the start of the game,” Harmanpreet said after the triumph.

“I think the final was always going to be tough, we lost to New Zealand earlier. But we had been having practice sessions after that and worked on our mistakes,” he added.

Both teams began the match on a cautious note staying mostly in the mid-field. India won a penalty corner in the seventh minute, but couldn’t capitalise on it. However, skipper Harmanpreet didn’t miss out on a re-awarded penalty corner. He executed a perfect dragflick to put India in the lead.

The Indian team continued to hold possession and put pressure on the New Zealand defence and ended the first quarter at 1-0.

Shamsher increased the lead for India through a penalty corner in the 18th minute. New Zealand managed to make only two circle entries in the second quarter even as the Indian team scored three more goals. Nilakanta found the back of the net in the 22nd minute before Gursahibjit and Mandeep scored in quick succession.

Vivek Prasad intercepted the ball brilliantly to assist a goal for Gursahibjit and Mandeep converted a penalty corner just before the half-time whistle.

After an action-packed first half, the intensity dropped from both sides. New Zealand tried to make a few inroads in the third quarter as they took a shot in the 37th minute which went wide of the post. Jarmanpreet Singh saved a penalty corner in the next minute.

In the last quarter, India held on to the lead not allowing New Zealand any chance.

Lalremsiami’s winner

Against Japan, Navjot Kaur (11th minute) opened the scoring to but the lead was neutralised within a minute as Minami Shimizu (12) scored for the hosts. Lalremsiami (33) then struck the winning goal for India.

India dominated the first 10 minutes, and finally managed to find the breakthrough when Forward Navjot kept her nerves under pressure and produced a fine finish in front of the goal.

However, the next minute saw Japan strike back immediately with a well-crafted field goal which was put into the back of the net by Shimizu to make it 1-1.

The second quarter saw both the teams focus on the defence. India had a few chances in the first few minutes, with Vandana Katariya and Navjot combining well on the attacking front, but could not produce a goal-scoring opportunity.

India started aggressively after the half-time break and won a penalty corner in the 33rd minute. India’s prolific drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur stepped up to take the execution, but her shot was saved by the Japanese Goalkeeper Megumi Kageyama.

However, the rebound fell to India’s young Forward Lalremsiami, who put the ball into the back of the net.

The results:

Men: India 5 (Harmanpreet Singh,7, Shamsher Singh, 18, Nilakanta Sharma, 22, Gursahibjit Singh, 26, Mandeep Singh, 27) bt New Zealand 0.

Women: India 2 (Navjot Kaur, 11, Lalremsiami, 33) bt Japan 1 (Minami Shimizu, 12).

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