India eye a better show against Australia in CWG hockey final
In a repeat of the 2010 final, India will take on defending champions Australia in Sunday's title clash after they stole a stunning come-from-behind 3-2 win over higher ranked New Zealand in the men's hockey semi-final of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre here Saturday.
India, who were thrashed 0-8 by Australia in the 2010 final, will be looking for an improved show this time. They did well in their 2-4 loss against Australia in the group stage here.
Goals from Simon Child and Nick Haig gave World No.6 New Zealand a 2-0 lead but India, World No.9, came back strongly with strikes from Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh to book a place in the final.
Against all odds, it was a great comeback by India, who were without their playmaker captain Sardar Singh, who was suspended for the match.
New Zealand took an early lead in the second minute through a field goal from Child. The Indians appealed for a video referral to challenge the goal but their request was flatly refused.
Moving on from the early setback, India, in its bid to level the scores, kept the opponent's goalkeeper and defence busy but somehow missed out cashing in on the opportunities that came their way. But New Zealand doubled the lead in the 18th minute with a penalty corner from Haig.
India opened their scoring in the 28th after they got a penalty stroke, thanks to an offence by Kiwi goalkeeper Dean Couzins. Rupinder comfortably converted from the hotspot as India went into the break trailing 1-2.
The second half started with India pressing to equalise the score but were met by a good defence from the opponents. India found the equaliser in the 42nd minute with a brilliant finish from Ramandeep, who was set-up well by Manpreet Singh.
The goal left the New Zealanders stunned as they sensed that the match was slowly slipping out from their grasp. India pressed hard with S.V.Sunil making some quick runs down the right flank.
Under relentless attack, the New Zealand defence finally cracked as Akashdeep managed to find the winner in the 47th minute. India did well to hang on to the lead and kept alive their hopes of winning the gold medal.
In the other semi-final, Australia beat England 4-1 to seal their place in the final. Simon Orchard, Eddie Ockenden, Chris Ciriello and Tristian White sounded the board for Australia. Harry Martin scored the only goal for England, who will now play New Zealand for the bronze medal.
(Posted on 02-08-2014)