Lalit Upadhyay (18′), Sukhjeet Singh (25′) and Varun Kumar (41′) score in regulation time for the Men in Blue.

India’s Men’s Hockey Team on Sunday suffered a heart-breaking loss to New Zealand in an incredibly tense crossover match here at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela.

New Zealand beat India 5-4 in the sudden death of the shootouts after the two teams drew 3-3 in regulation time. For New Zealand, Nic Woods, Hayden Phillips, Sam Lane scored while Sean Findlay scored twice for his team in the shootouts. For India, Harmanpreet Singh, Sukhjeet Singh scored while Raj Kumar Pal scored twice.

After Spain edged past Malaysia in a thrilling shootout earlier in the evening to book their Quarter-final berth, the contest between India and New Zealand too was expected to go down to the wire and both teams ensured edge-of-the-seat action for the packed audience in the iconic Kalinga Stadium.

India got off the blocks on an attacking mode as they created some fine goalscoring opportunities early in the game. But it took both teams a while to shake off the big-match nerves. It was in the 18th minute when India made the breakthrough via brilliant interception by Captain Harmanpreet Singh that set up a speedy counter-attack. Upon receiving the ball from his Captain, Akashdeep made a long pass to Shamsher Singh who then assisted Lalit Upadhyay to score India’s first goal.

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They doubled the lead in the 25th minute when Sukhjeet Singh made a fine effort of a rebound from a drag-flick. With two goals on board, India looked like they were in control of the proceedings until Sam Lane pumped a field goal in the 29th minute.

The next few minutes remained tense with India unable to convert from the chances in penalty corners. Finally, it was Varun Kumar who brought some respite when he converted from a drag-flick in the 41st minute.

India allowed New Zealand back in the game when they made some critical errors in defence, giving away PCs. In the 44th minute, Kane Russell converted from a penalty corner narrowing India’s lead to 3-2 and finally Sean Findlay scored from a PC in the 50th minute that equaled the scoreboard resulting in a shootout.

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