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Rupinder sinks Black Sticks with two goals

World No 6 India blew away New Zealand with two goals from Rupinder Pal Singh en route to a 4-0 victory to claim their seventh bronze medal in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

India and New Zealand played for the bronze medal today after a disastrous performance from Roelant Oltmans’s World No 6 side against Malaysia on Friday in a group match that cost them a place in the final.

The Indians won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup five times, the last being in 2010, and finished second in 2008 and 2016 while New Zealand emerged champions in 2012 and 2015.

However, a tale of near misses in the first quarter greeted both teams and it was only in the 17th minute that India broke the deadlock.

Watched by an estimated 2,000 fans, India earned a first penalty corner and the towering Rupinder Pal Singh stepped up with a low drag-flick that was fast enough to beat a diving Richard Joyce for the first goal.

Though the Black Sticks threw everything they could on the opposite end they were simply locked out from making clear goal chances and in a quick counter attack India picked up three more penalty corners in the second quarter. Rupinder once again made it count in the fourth with another low drive to the right of Joyce to give the Asian champions a comfortable two-goal lead going into the third quarter.

The Black sticks were further pressured by India with the third goal in the 48th minute. The goal started from a cleverly orchestrated move from Chinglensana Kangujam who relayed the ball to Mandeep Singh. With two Black Sticks defenders lurking in front, Mandeep placed the ball to the direction of Sunil Sowmarpet who gathered it and rolled past Joyce.

India leads 3-0 by now and it was another day of sorrow for New Zealand.

With four minutes remaining to the end, the Indians were clearly sitting on top of the Kiwis and Talwinder Singh increased the lead to 4-0 with a field goal. And at the final hooter, India prided itself with a great performance here in preparation for the World League Semi-finals in June.

WHAT THE COACHES SAID

Roelant Othmans (India Head Coach)

Our defence was very good today. We did not give away any penalty corner to New Zealand. But there are lessons we learned and one of them according to our statistics is that we should have scored more goals in this tournament.

I don’t believe in negatives. I look at positives such as how we can improve in executions of penalty corners and in other areas to move forward. We tried out some variables.

We are playing in tournaments in Germany, London and Holland after this. And will gather all the information needed to prepare for the World League Final held later year.

Darren Smith (New Zealand Head Coach)

We came to win a medal and unfortunately missed out on it. Overall it has been a good tournament for us with a group of young players who could do with the experience.

India was on top of us today and it was a day when we could not get going. They (India) defended well and we did all we could to make some breakthroughs.

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