Hamilton: The New Zealand women’s hockey team continued to produce rich vein of form as they hammered India 6-2 in the final Test to complete a five-match series here on Saturday.
The Black Sticks were untroubled from the start with Olivia Merry converting a splendid field goal in the 4th minute of the first quarter. She starred in the first 15 minutes as she came up with another field goal in the 15th minute to give her team a strong start with a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw India make strong amends, earning a penalty corner in the 22nd minute. Deep Grace Ekka was successful in converting the penalty corner with an improvised flick to earn India’s first goal of the match. This was Grace’s second successful penalty corner in the five-match series. New Zealand fought back with Pippa Hayward earning the third goal for the hosts in the 27th minute to take their score to 3-1 at the end of the second quarter.
India began the third quarter with positive intent, and their determination paid off when they earned a penalty corner in the 33rd minute. It was skipper Rani who was inch-perfect to convert the penalty corner and narrow India’s goal difference to 2-3. Soon after, India won two back-to-back penalty corners creating a brilliant opportunity to tie the score with the hosts. However, the chance went begging as the Gurjit Kaur’s flick was deflected by an alert Kiwi goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon. New Zealand overcame this scare to take a formidable 6-2 lead at the end of the third quarter with three goals scored in a span of four minutes. It was Natasha Fitzsimons (37′), Samantha Harrison (38′) and Kirsten Pearce (40′) who ensured New Zealand put India under pressure going into the final quarter.
India showed resilience in the final 15 minutes, trying to find a gap in the striking circle. While India matched New Zealand’s challenge with pace, good skill work and improvised ball possession they could not quite make it count in the 25 yards mark. A few good opportunities at a shot on goal were lost, for instance with eight minutes remaining Udita’s pass was not controlled by Preeti Dubey who had positioned herself inside the circle thus missing out on a chance. However, India’s defence remained strong denying New Zealand a further lead and ended the match with a 6-2 win for the hosts.(ANI)