India sealed the third spot to win the bronze medal in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as they overcame the New Zealand side, convincingly, by a margin of 4-0. Rupinder Pal Singh scored a brace to put India in front before goals from SV Sunil and Talwinder Singh put the game to bed in the final quarter.
India started off on the offensive and put up a brilliant attacking display in the first couple of minutes but the Kiwis were able to keep the scoreline level. The Indian side finally won a penalty corner in the 13th minute for their brilliant efforts but the New Zealand goalie ensured they went into the second quarter on level terms.
The blue brigade continued their aggressive play in the second quarter and won another penalty corner but the Kiwi goalie was proving to be a tough nut to crack as he saved yet another Rupinder shot. However, it was the Indian who finally got the breakthrough, in the 17th minute, when his drag flick from a penalty corner finally crossed the line. The Kiwi side tried to equalise by accelerating their game and piling pressure on the Indians but found no way through the rock solid defence. India, on the other hand, converted another penalty corner to double their lead a couple of minutes later and even though the Blacksticks tried hard to get through the resolute Indian defence, they failed to create any clear-cut scoring opportunity. India had a few chances of their own but some last ditch defending from the Kiwis kept them in the game.
New Zealand had the majority of possession in the first few minutes after the resumption of the game but the calm Indian defence protected India's two-goal cushion with ease. New Zealand failed time and again in penetrating through the Indian defence while India utilised the counter attacking window to throw the opposition off balance. The third quarter lacked the intensity of the first half as the teams were saving their energy to launch a final attack in the last 15 minutes of the game.
Three minutes into the final quarter, the experienced SV Sunil put the game out of New Zealand's reach when he put the ball into the Kiwi goal for the third time from a Mandeep Singh ball. India scored again through Manpreet Singh but it was disallowed because the Indian had used the back of his stick to put the ball past the Kiwi shot-stopper. India, however, were not denied a fourth as Talwinder Singh got his name on the scoresheet as well to seal the 3rd spot for the Indian side.
U Mumba or Gujarat? Who will win?
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