IND vs NZ, Sultan of Johor Cup 2023: India storms into semis with 6-2 win over New Zealand


The Indian junior men’s hockey team remained on course to defend its title with a stunning 6-2 triumph over New Zealand that put them in the semifinals of 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023 here on Monday.

The Indian junior men’s hockey team remained on course to defend its title with a stunning 6-2 triumph over New Zealand that put them in the semifinals of 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023 here on Monday.

Riding on their success in the previous outing where they beat hosts Malaysia 3-1, Indian Colts made a positive start against New Zealand.

Their intent to win was evident when they earned a PC in the opening minute of the match. Amandeep Lakra was on target to capitalise from the early opportunity, flicking the ball powerfully past the New Zealand goalkeeper Luke Elmes, and earning a confidence-inducing 1-0 lead in the 2nd minute.

The pressure continued to pile on New Zealand in the following moments with India picking up yet another PC in the 7th minute. Lakra remained the cynosure of India’s PC attack, stepping up again to unleash a fierce flick to double India’s lead. The defending Champions remained persistent in testing New Zealand’s defence as they scored their third goal in the 12th minute – thanks to Arun Sahani’s cross from the left wing deflecting off Luke Elmes into the goal.

With a formidable 3-0 lead, India started the second quarter in a similar fashion with Uttam Singh leading India’s charge in the forwardline; setting up a skilful one-on-one tackle with the goalie. However, he was unable to put it past Elmes. Later in the quarter New Zealand tried to regain their footing in the game when Sam Lints showcased brilliant stick work in the attacking circle but India’s defence proved too strong to breach. New Zealand were finally able to score that elusive first goal when Luke Aldred converted a fine PC in the 29th minute.

Determined to build on their lead, India made an attacking start in the third quarter. Their efforts resulted in a PC and Lakra struck his third to complete a stunning hat-trick. The 35th-minute goal put India in command with a 4-1 lead. Halfway through the quarter, though, New Zealand looked to answer back as Daniel Torr dodged a couple of Indian defenders in the circle, but India’s custodian Mohith H.S. remained alert, rushing out to unsettle the forward and force a miss.

New Zealand began the last quarter with hope to bounce back in the game but the Indian defence remained resolute. Meanwhile, Indian attackers continued to showcase disciplined structure as they created crucial chances that would fetch two more goals this quarter. In the 52nd minute, Poovanna Chandura Boby scored India’s fifth goal through a PC while Arun Sahani struck his second goal in the 53rd minute taking India’s lead to 6-1.

With seconds left in the game, an infringement by India’s defence meant New Zealand would get a final go at the goal and Luke Aldred ensured he was on point, putting the ball past Mohith with a well-executed flick. But the goal did little to stop India from marching into the semifinal of the Sultan of Johor Cup, to be played on November 3.

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