Bengaluru: India outplayed New Zealand to register a comprehensive 4-2 win here at the Sports Authority of India here, in the first of the three-match men’s hockey test series on Thursday. Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, who had missed the Champions Trophy tournament last month, made a strong statement scoring a brace as India got some vital match practice ahead of the Asian Games.
Rupinder scored in the 2nd and 34th minutes, while Mandeep Singh (15th) and Harmanpreet Singh (38th) were the other goal scorers. New Zealand’s goals came from Stephen Jenness (26th, 55th).
India had better ball possession and were clinical throughout. Coach Harendra’s mantra, “everyone attacks and everyone defends” was followed by the team as they posted a big win.
New Zealand did try to make a comeback in the last quarter through Jenness but by then it was a little too late for them. “This series is a preparation for the Asian Games We all know our roles. It’s more about the mindset, the mental space the team is in,” said Rupinder.
New Zealand coach Darren Smith spoke about the need to strengthen the defence. “We have to ensure that our defence is tight and cannot let in goals in such fashion,” he said. He praised the Indian team for converting their chances. The next two matches will be played on July 21 and 22.