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New Zealand outplays India in the Azlan Opener (5/24/2012)
--K. Arumugam
New Zealand outplays India for a fluent 5-1 victory

It seems New Zealand knows fully well how to unknot India. They did it last year on the same turf here in Ipoh, and repeated it more clinically and stylishly again now.

The Kiwis forced India to start its campaign on a jarring note. It’s a heavy defeat for India. Pressing from the word go, New Zealand outplayed India for a fluent 5-1 victory in the opening match on Thursday.

In the last year edition, New Zealand posted an impressive 7-3 win.

Shivender Singh gave India an early relief with a cool goal in the six minute and with that equalizer when the score stood 1-1, a cracker of a contest was expected, and it was but not for India.

New Zealand made its intention clear, coming with a goal at the stroke of half time, to take rest with a goal more on their side.

The otherwise sedate first half was followed by a brisk movements, and it witnessed quick counter attacks from New Zealand each of which carried a goal threat.

Even as Indian coach Michael Nobbs pressed all the fresh legs and youngsters in the second half, New Zealand played a patient game, and waited for their moment to come. India reined supreme in the first quarter of the second session, but was lethargic and poor inside the circle.

Like SV Sunil in the first half, Juvraj Walmiki returned to International hockey after the injury, really painfully. He was put in by Tushar well, but he took a fancy reverse shot which was within the grasp of rival goalie to deflect.

Misses of this nature cost India, and the waiting Kiwis changed their gear in the second later to decimate the Indians.

Goals came for the Kiwi's as easy as stored eggs in a refrigerator.

New Zealand struck three goals in the space of 8 minutes, first from Nick Wilson in the 58th minute, followed by a gem from Stephens Jenness (6st min) and the last nail in the coffin was put by penalty corner expert Matt L'huiller in the 65th minute.

Over all, the Indians are to be blamed for the poor show.

They did not show any method in their movements, and the way they placed themselves in the circle is anything but impressive. Michael Nobbs said it is a reality check, and the team has failed him.

Once the Kiwis struck the early goal within seconds from the bully off, and it was by veteran Simon Child, India did not recover fully from the shock, and had to end the day the way they did. India will now meet South Korea tomorrow in the third match of Day Two (17.30 hrs IST).

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