Hockey: Black Sticks lose second straight

By Kris Shannon

James Coughlan of New Zealand and Sardar Singh of India collide as they contest for the ball. Photo / Getty Images
James Coughlan of New Zealand and Sardar Singh of India collide as they contest for the ball. Photo / Getty Images

India 4
New Zealand 2

The New Zealand men are on a collision course with hockey's heavyweights after a second straight loss at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne tonight.

A day after going down 3-2 to world No 1 Germany, the Black Sticks were beaten 4-2 by India to be consigned to the bottom of group A.

With a different format from last year's edition, the defeat wasn't quite a death knell on New Zealand's medal prospects but it leaves them facing a tough task.

But for an unlikely series of results on Tuesday's final pool matches, the Black Sticks will be left facing the one of the top two in group B for a spot in the semifinals - positions currently occupied by Australia and the Netherlands.

Stranger things have happened but those two sides are unlikely to be too concerned about the prospect of facing new coach Colin Batch's youthful team.

As it was against Germany, an underwhelming first half doomed the Black Sticks to defeat against India, with the world's 11th-ranked side charging out to a 3-1 lead at the break. Nick Wilson's second goal of the tournament pulled one back but that was as close as New Zealand got.

The Black Sticks could hardly have wished for a better start, going ahead just as quickly as they fell behind yesterday. The game was barely a minute old when an Indian defender had the misfortune of putting through his own net, giving the Kiwis a slice of luck they were lacking against Germany.

But the first half went all downhill from there for a flat-looking New Zealand side, with three Indian goals giving them a deserved lead and leaving the Black Sticks in need of more magic in the second spell.

First, Akashdeep Singh deflected a speculative shot past debutant Devon Manchester in goal, before Gurwinder Chandi put India in front when he squeezed one under the keeper from close range.

Following a couple of unsuccessful penalty corners from New Zealand, India showed the way from the set piece to make it 3-1, though a deflection helped Raghunath Vokkaliga's strike find the back of the net.

That was the way it stayed until the break, leaving new coach Colin Batch requiring a rallying cry for the second day running.

Whatever he said again paid immediate dividends, with Wilson collecting a clever pass and applying the reverse stick finish to pull one back shortly after the break.

New Zealand were playing with a greater purpose than the first half, but India remained dangerous on the counter-attack and only a spectacular save from Manchester kept the deficit to one.

But, with the game getting stretched, there was nothing Manchester could do to prevent India's fourth and match-sealing goal from Danish Mujtaba.

India 4 (Singh, Chandi, Vokkaliga, Mujtaba)
New Zealand 2 (own goal, Wilson)

- APNZ

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