Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

It was heartbreak for India as lower-ranked New Zealand scripted an upset win over the hosts via sudden death to enter into the quarterfinals of the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 in a crossover match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

With the narrow loss, India failed to qualify for the quarters. They will now play Japan in the classification round on January 26. Meanwhile, New Zealand will face formidable Belgium in the quarter-finals.

The match ended in a 3-3 draw in the regulation time. In the ensuing shoot-out, the match also ended in a 3-3 tie again. However, New Zealand had the upper edge in the sudden death.

The Men in Blue started well as they seemed to have learnt their lessons against Wales in their last group match. They dominated the proceedings from the word go and earned a penalty corner in the 12th minute in the process. However, the first quarter went barren.

In the second quarter, India upped their ante and surged ahead with more attacking instinct. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay opened the account for the hosts through a brilliant field goal in the 17th minute. The hosts went with the momentum and earned three penalty corners in the 21st, 23rd and 24th minutes respectively. Sukhjeet Singh converted the last penalty corner to double India’s lead 2-0. 

Kiwis showed some signs of improvement. Sam Lane struck a scintillating field goal in the 28th minute to reduce the goal margin to 1-2 at the end of the first half.

In the third quarter, India earned their fifth penalty corner in the 38th minute but failed to convert it. They earned two back-to-back penalty corners in the 40th minute. Varun Kumar dully converted the last one to increase India’s lead to 3-1.

The Black Sticks bounced back strongly to earn their first penalty corner in the 43rd minute. Kane Russell grabbed the chance in both the hands to reduce their margin to 2-3.

In the final quarter, New Zealand earned their second penalty corner and Sean Findlay converted it with elan to make it 3-3. India retaliated by earning back to back penalty corners in the 53nd and 53rd minute, but failed to capitalize.

The match went down the wire and after the penalty shoot-out, it was decided via sudden death.