FIH Hockey World Cup 2023: Indian dream ends in heartbreak

India wasted a 2-0 halftime lead to suffer a 4-5 loss against New Zealand in the crossover match

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Updated: 22 January, 2023 10:17 pm IST
India fell short against lower ranked New Zealand (Photo Courtesy Twitter @TheHockeyIndia)

India’s 48-year wait for a Hockey World Cup title just got longer.

A billion hopes for the elusive title suffered a big jolt in Bhubaneshwar after hosts India suffered a crushing 4-5 loss in a penalty shootout in their crossover match on January 22.

It was a disappointing show for the world no. 6 team as they squandered their 2-0 lead at halftime. India allowed world no. 12 New Zealand to claw their way back to play a 3-3 stalemate at the end of regulation time.

Lalit Upadhyay gave India the lead in the 17th minute before Sukhjeet Singh made it 2-0 in the 24th minute.

Despite being two goals down, New Zealand remained a threat to the Indian defence. They keep probing their hosts, and it is their perseverance that saw them pull one back in the 28th minute when Sam Lane scored.

However, not all was lost for India as Varun Kumar restored a two-goal lead with his 40th-minute strike.

But New Zealand, who was not letting the guard down and biding their time, got rewarded for their patience as Kane Russel levelled the score with a 43rd-minute penalty corner conversion.

India went into their defensive shell in the fourth corner, which perhaps led to their doom. While goalkeeper Krishan Pathak came through in the final minutes to prevent dominant New Zealand from winning in regulation time, India also paid the price for failing to capitalise on penalty corner opportunities.

With both teams pulling and refusing to give up, the shootout turned out to be a nervous affair. The battle was finally settled after 18 shootout attempts before New Zealand prevailed over the hosts and pushed them to battle for 9–16 classification matches.

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