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India face New Zealand in semis without Sardar

Posted on Aug 01 2014 | IANS

Glasgow, Aug 1 : The Indian men's hockey team will clash with New Zealand in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games Saturday but without their captain Sardar Singh.

The midfielder has been suspended for one match following his second dangerous offence in the tournament. Sardar was reprimanded for dangerous play in Tuesday's game against Australia and then received a yellow card against South Africa Thursday.

He was given a two-match suspension but after an an appeal by India, the jury reduced the suspension to one match.

World No.6 New Zealand will be using their experience against India with seven of their players having more than 150 international caps to their name.

But India have proven to be a well balanced team with three wins in four matches with a fair combination of experience and youngsters.

World No.9 India will have to watch out for Black Sticks' penalty corner specialist Andy Hayward. But India's reply to Hayward, Rupinder Pal Singh has also performed consistently with five successful penalty corner conversions and two field goals, making a total of seven goals to his credit.

Back in the 1998 edition of the Games at Kuala Lumpur, India defeated New Zealand 3-1 but in 2006 Melbourne New Zealand managed to slide past India 2-1 in the 5-6 position playoff.

Though the two sides did not face each other in 2010 Delhi, India settled for the silver while New Zealand won the bronze.

"We now move into the second phase of the tournament. Unfortunately, we will play without Sardar who is under a one match suspension. New Zealand are well versed in these contests and this is our challenge," said India chief coach Terry Walsh.

"Our team is growing game-by-game and this match will measure how far we have developed. Our scoring options are real threats and our defensive structure will need to be at its best. Our confidence and self belief will determine the outcome of this game."

Defending champions Australia will take on England in the other semi-final.

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