The Indian men’s hockey team won the Olympic Test event on Wednesday, beating New Zealand 5-0 to avenge the loss it endured in their round-robin clash. Captain Harmanpreet Singh (7th minute) set the ball rolling before Shamsher Singh (18th minute), Nilakanta Sharma (22nd minute), Gursahibjit Singh (26th minute) and Mandeep Singh (27th minute) scored for India at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo. Also Read - India Hockey Legend And World Cup Winner Michael Kindo Passes Away at 73
India had lost 1-2 to New Zealand earlier in round-robin league-stage. “We played very well. We managed to score 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 to win today,” he added. Also Read - Indian Men's Hockey Team Finish Decade With Highest-Ever Ranking
Both teams began the match on a cautious note by turning over the ball in the mid-field. India won a penalty corner in the seventh minute, but couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity. However, skipper Harmanpreet didn’t miss out on a re-awarded penalty corner. He executed a perfect drag-flick to put India in the lead. The Indian team continued to hold possession and put tremendous pressure on the New Zealand defence as they ended the first quarter at 1-0.
Shamsher scored India’s second goal through a penalty corner in the 18th minute. New Zealand managed to make only two circle entries in the second quarter 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 as India and New Zealand played out a goalless quarter but the former held the lead at 5-0. In the last quarter, India ensured they stayed in the lead and didn’t allow New Zealand to break through their defence throughout the match.
India’s attacking approach in the match paid off as they walked off the pitch as winners of the competition.