NEW ZEALAND BEAT INDIA IN PENALTY SHOOTOUT 5-4

New Zealand held their nerves to edge India in the penalty shootout at the Kalinga Stadium on Sunday, as the hosts crashed out of the 2023 Hockey World Cup. Despite being ahead in the game, India missed the opportunity to build on a 3-1 lead in the third quarter, when New Zealand scored twice in the final quarter to tie the game at the end of the regular time, forcing a penalty shootout. In regular time, India’s goals came from Lalit Upadhyay (17 minutes), Sukhjeet Singh (24 minutes), and Varun Kumar (40 minutes), whereas the Black Sticks’ goals came from Sam Lane (28 minutes), Kane Russell (43 minutes), and Sean Findlay (49 minutes).

India battled back to tie the score at 3-3 in the shootout thanks to a few outstanding saves from seasoned goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, and had two chances in the sudden death as Shamsher Singh missed the final shootout attempt to lose 4-5 in front of the home crowd. India started the crucial match aggressively as they stormed into New Zealand’s circle in the first minute. The hosts lost possession but looked determined to take the lead as they made another penetration in the third minute through India number 11 Mandeep Singh, who made an excellent run into the Kiwi circle. New Zealand made their first attack in the sixth minute through a long aerial pass but the hosts counterattacked quickly, coming perilously close to scoring the first goal, but the New Zealand defence stayed alert to avert any danger.

India secured two consecutive PCs in the 22nd minute but failed to convert them. However, India did score a goal on the rebound but New Zealand used their referral for it to be denied by the third umpire. Lane scored the crucial goal to put New Zealand ahead at 5-4. All hopes hung on Shamsher but he failed to rally past the goalkeeper as India crashed out of the Hockey World Cup on home soil. New Zeland will lock horns with defending champions Belgium on January 24 for a berth in the semifinals while India will face Japan on January 26 for the 9th-16th position in the tournament.

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