India suffered their second defeat in the Six Nations Invitational Tournament in Spain on Thursday after going down 0-1 to New Zealand in a tightly contested match. Stephen Jenness scored the lone goal in the match for the Black Sticks in the 18th minute after a mistake from goalie Vikas Dahiya.
After all the euphoria surrounding the second-place finish at the Champions Trophy, India started the Six Nations Invitational tournament on a losing note against Germany before bouncing back with a win against Ireland. For the third match, India took on New Zealand to keep the hopes of winning the tournament alive.
Unlike the first two matches, where India surrendered possession to hit their opponent on the counter, Roelant Oltmans' side dominated the possession giving the Black sticks a tough start in the opening minutes. With the Indians enjoying the majority of the possession, chances also came their way. Talwinder Singh had a golden opportunity to put the side ahead in the 4th minute after he outfoxed the Kiwi defence to go one-on-one with the keeper. However, the forward smashed the ball past the goal to waste the chance.
As the game progressed, the New Zealand team slowly came into the match and won the first penalty corner of the match in the 8th minute. But, Vikas Dahiya, who started in goal instead of PR Sreejesh, kept the teams deadlocked with a fine. That was a warning for the Indians. Although the quarter ended 0-0, the Kiwis took the lead early in the second quarter after a mistake from Indian goalie Vikas Dahiya. The ball found its way into the shooting circle after a strong push from outside the area and the Kiwi forward guided the ball towards the goal. The ball went straight at the goal and looked like a routine save, but Vikas Dahiya fluffed it and Stephen Jenness deflected the ball into the goal.
New Zealand dominate; India struggle
Trailing 0-1, one would have expected India to fight back in the remaining minutes of the second quarter, but Roelant Oltmans' side struggled to find an opening. With India struggling, the Kiwis upped their ante to run at the Indian defence. Rupinder Pal Singh stopped the Black Sticks from doubling the lead in the 26th minute after a crucial intervention in the shooting circle.
To add to India’s misery, Akashdeep Singh received a green card early in the third quarter to leave the Indian team defending with just 10 men. Although India enjoyed possession similar to the first quarter, they failed to find the goal with the forwards failing to control the ball in the shooting circle. Rupinder Pal Singh once again rescued the Indians from going 0-2 down in the 36th minute with yet another crucial clearance.
Inconsistency ails India
Lack of consistency has been the biggest problem of the Indian team of late, and they once again showed it with another indifferent performance. Roelant Oltmans' side enjoyed the majority of the possession throughout the match, but apart from a few half-chances, they failed to create goal-scoring opportunities. Needing a goal to at least take a draw from the match, India pushed forward in numbers in the final quarter, but Sardar Singh and co. found it tough against a resolute Kiwi defence. With India pushing up, it opened chances for the Black sticks and they came close to doubling their lead a few times, before settling for a 1-0 win.
With just three points from three games, India are currently fourth in the table with matches against Argentina and Spain remaining. India will next face Argentina on July 2.