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India beat Kiwis to enter final
October 05, 2005 20:38 IST
The Indian eves produced their best performance of the tournament so far, pipping formidable New Zealand 2-1 to make it to the final of the Indira Gandhi International Gold Cup hockey championship in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The hosts, who played a free-flowing and attacking hockey, scored through Saba Anjum, the top-scorer with five goals in her kitty so far, and Sanggaai Chanu to maintain their clean slate in the tournament.
For New Zealand, Honor Dillon narrowed down the margin in the 64th minute.
India now lead the table with nine points from three matches with one match to be played against Australia, who beat Italy 4-1 on Wednesday.
Australia are placed second on the table with seven points and are almost certain of making it to the final. However, if they lose to India and New Zealand defeat Malaysia in their last league match, then Australia's fate would be decided through goal difference.
The India-New Zealand rubber saw both India and Kiwis play some fast and attacking hockey. Brilliant stick work coupled with fast moves made the match an interesting affair.
The rivals matched each other in speed and it was left to the defence of both the teams to prove its skills.
India goofed up a chance to go into lead in the sixth minute when they failed to score through a setpiece with Sarita Lakra missing the easy chance to sound the board. Adeline Kerketta could have easily given India the breakthrough in the 24th minute as she was only left with the goalkeeper to beat, but she also muffed the chance.
New Zealand were also guilty of squandering the chance to score through as many as five penalty corners in the first half and despite an enthralling game of hockey, the teams remained goalless going at the break.
The Indians started the second half with more purpose and exerted relentless pressure on the rivals fortress.
The Kiwis looked a bit tired and slow on their feet, struggling as they were with the heat and humidity.
Saba Anjum finally gave India the lead when she converted the fifth penalty corner, deflecting a pass from Rajwinder Kaur into the goalpost.
Ten minutes later, Sanggai Ibemhal Chanu took advantage of a goalmouth melee and sounded the board to give India a 2-0 lead.
The Kiwis made a last ditch effort to come back into the game and Honor Dillon did manage to narrow the margin in the 64th minute, but India hung on to win the crucial tie.
Australia put up an improved performance and pumped in three goals in the first half of the match against Italy.
Taylor Sarah sounded the board in the third minute and captain Nikki Hudson scored another in the 19th minute. The next two goals were scored by Skirving Angie through a penalty corner and a field goal. Italy managed a face-saving goal through a penalty corner in the last moments of the match.