The New Zealand men are on a collision course with hockey's
heavyweights after a second straight loss at the Champions
Trophy in Melbourne tonight.
A day after going down 3-2 to world No 1 Germany, the Black
Sticks were beaten 4-2 by India to be consigned to the bottom
of group A.
With a different format from last year's edition, the defeat
wasn't quite a death knell on New Zealand's medal prospects
but it leaves them facing a tough task.
But for an unlikely series of results on Tuesday's final pool
matches, the Black Sticks will be left facing the one of the
top two in group B for a spot in the semifinals - positions
currently occupied by Australia and the Netherlands.
Stranger things have happened but those two sides are
unlikely to be too concerned about the prospect of facing new
coach Colin Batch's youthful team.
As it was against Germany, an underwhelming first half doomed
the Black Sticks to defeat against India, with the world's
11th-ranked side charging out to a 3-1 lead at the break.
Nick Wilson's second goal of the tournament pulled one back
but that was as close as New Zealand got.
The Black Sticks could hardly have wished for a better start,
going ahead just as quickly as they fell behind yesterday.
The game was barely a minute old when an Indian defender had
the misfortune of putting through his own net, giving the
Kiwis a slice of luck they were lacking against Germany.
But the first half went all downhill from there for a
flat-looking New Zealand side, with three Indian goals giving
them a deserved lead and leaving the Black Sticks in need of
more magic in the second spell.
First, Akashdeep Singh deflected a speculative shot past
debutant Devon Manchester in goal, before Gurwinder Chandi
put India in front when he squeezed one under the keeper from
Following a couple of unsuccessful penalty corners from New
Zealand, India showed the way from the set piece to make it
3-1, though a deflection helped Raghunath Vokkaliga's strike
find the back of the net.
That was the way it stayed until the break, leaving new coach
Colin Batch requiring a rallying cry for the second day
Whatever he said again paid immediate dividends, with Wilson
collecting a clever pass and applying the reverse stick
finish to pull one back shortly after the break.
New Zealand were playing with a greater purpose than the
first half, but India remained dangerous on the
counter-attack and only a spectacular save from Manchester
kept the deficit to one.
But, with the game getting stretched, there was nothing
Manchester could do to prevent India's fourth and
match-sealing goal from Danish Mujtaba.
India 3 (Singh, Chandi, Vokkaliga, Mujtaba), New Zealand 2
(own goal, Wilson). HT: 3-1.
- Kris Shannon of APNZ