The history of Indian hockey is littered with grief, each more painful than the last. However, this will continue for a while. The team that flew above the clouds after winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics has come down to earth yesterday.
Those moments of unimaginable soaring under the crisp Tokyo sun now seem a world away from the lows during a windy, jittery – and finally a harrowing night in Bhubaneswar. the Indian dugout and stands were an ominous awareness that the hosts had been kicked out of their own World Cup.
The early elimination of New Zealand, ending the underdog in that game, triggered one of the upsets of the tournament in a play-off for a quarter-final spot. In an endless night of incredible hockey between India Vs New Zealand lay India trailed by two goals, allowing New Zealand to level the game 3-3, forcing the game to a penalty shootout. Also read: ICC loses around $2.5 million in a phishing scam
It was the New Zealanders who took a two-goal lead in extra time but PR Sreejesh’s heroism. The Indian goalkeeper limping off the pitch – brought India back into the game after all seemed lost and brought a sudden death there The hosts had two chances to win but failed to capitalize on both. Eventually, after almost two hours on the pitch, New Zealand finally equalized with their 18th penalty when goalkeeper Leon Hayward Shamsher Singh was saved.
Although Shamsher’s failed attempt was the game’s defining moment, it was a collective defeat for a side who have never won a game, says coach Graham Reid they are “quietly confident they could pull it off “. “Fear accompanied this game from the first whistle. Indians are nervous on the pitch.
That tension was temporarily alleviated when India struck the Blockade broke that started deep in their half and ended with a vigorous counterattack which Lalit Upadhyay converted into a goal. And when Sukhjeet Singh took a 2-0 lead seven minutes later with a shot from close range, just as Leander Paes dived into the net from a loose ball, India seemed to be coping easily.
That feeling didn’t work. It was a long time after Sam Lane scored for New Zealand just before the break and after the break, Greg Nicola’s side did just that. near the halfway line and halting counter-attacks.
India was not able to penetrate New Zealand’s ‘D’ frequently, winning a total of 10 corner kicks, including four within two minutes of the second quarter and three within two minutes of the second quarter’s start. but a faint trailing flicker persisted. India threw everything they had against New Zealand but apart from Varun Kumar, who scored the third goal, none of the tricks and plays they tried bore fruit and fear.
They could have decided the match easily enough even if they took a third of their chances. Instead, their prodigality held New Zealand back. New Zealanders planned to hold the tie into the fourth quarter and they succeeded. A goal before half-time in the third quarter turned the tide in their favour and the final 15 minutes in particular, New Zealand proved themselves, underdogs, playing fearlessly. India, with a lot to lose, gave in to the pressure and conceded the third goal to equalize 3-3.
In overtime, India looked overwhelmed and dejected, clearly feeling the pressure of playing in front of full stands and expecting nothing but victory. This resulted in Abhishek and Shamsher missing their attempts and without the brave goalkeeper, Sreejesh India would have lost the game there. The experienced goalkeeper has reclaimed the years with two notable stops. In a sudden death, he injured his leg and denied New Zealand captain Nic Woods attempts.
Harmanpreet Singh, who could have won the game with a successful penalty, hit Hayward’s goalkeeper directly. India got another chance after Krishan Pathak – replacing the injured Sreejesh – somehow sent off Hayden Phillips but this time Sukhjeet failed to find the target.
Finally, New Zealand seized the opportunity after Shamsher’s failure. And when Hayward hit an impromptu jig near the far post and the New Zealand players took the field to celebrate, the Indian players fell to the ground.