• Shailesh upadhyay

Tokyo Olympics: India men's hockey team soak up pressure to beat New Zealand 3-2 in the opening game

Goals from vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh and a succession of big saves from PR Sreejesh helped the Indian men's hockey team secure a 3-2 win over New Zealand in their first match of the Tokyo Olympics. All three of India's goals came from penalty corners with Harmanpreet scoring twice and Rupinder getting one goal.


New Zealand took the lead in the sixth minute as Kane Russell scored through a penalty corner. Rupinder Pal Singh equalized for India four minutes through a penalty corner after which it was chances galore at both ends. The first quarter had a frantic end with New Zealand getting four back-to-back PCs. India defended all of them and the last resulted in a counterattack, at the end of which Gurjant Singh's shot was saved by the New Zealand goalkeeper. It was a comparatively quiet start to the second quarter. India had better control and their vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh scored from a penalty corner to give them the lead in the 26th minute. He scored soon after the start of the third as well to give India a 3-1 lead.

India was dominant for much of that quarter but slacked off towards the end of it. New Zealand capitalized on that and Nick Wilson's pass from the right flank caused chaos in front of the Indian goal. The ball trickled in and the goal was credited to Stephen Jennes, although it was unclear who got the last touch before the ball went past the line but New Zealand managed to cut India's lead down to one goal in the 43rd minute.

Goals from vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh and a succession of big saves from PR Sreejesh helped the Indian men's hockey team secure a 3-2 win over New Zealand in their first match of the Tokyo Olympics. All three of India's goals came from penalty corners with Harmanpreet scoring twice and Rupinder getting one goal.

Rupinder Pal Singh

New Zealand took the lead in the sixth minute as Kane Russell scored through a penalty corner. Rupinder Pal Singh equalized for India four minutes through a penalty corner after which it was chances galore at both ends. The first quarter had a frantic end with New Zealand getting four back-to-back PCs. India defended all of them and the last resulted in a counterattack, at the end of which Gurjant Singh's shot was saved by the New Zealand goalkeeper.


It was a comparatively quiet start to the second quarter. India had better control and their vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh scored from a penalty corner to give them the lead in the 26th minute. He scored soon after the start of the third as well to give India a 3-1 lead.

India was dominant for much of that quarter but slacked off towards the end of it. New Zealand capitalized on that and Nick Wilson's pass from the right flank caused chaos in front of the Indian goal. The ball trickled in and the goal was credited to Stephen Jennes, although it was unclear who got the last touch before the ball went past the line but New Zealand managed to cut India's lead down to one goal in the 43rd minute.

It all set up a nervy fourth quarter in which both teams shared nearly equal possession of the ball. With just over four minutes left on the clock, Lalit Upadhyay managed to get a shot on target after a lovely piece of skill that helped him dodge two players but it was saved by the New Zealand goalkeeper.

Shortly after that, New Zealand won a penalty corner that was blocked by Manpreet Singh. The umpire gave another penalty corner but the Indian captain referred the decision. Replays showed that the ball had hit Manpreet's stick. However, there was no advice possible on whether the ball bouncing off Manpreet's stick led to dangerous play which meant that New Zealand got another penalty corner.

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