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Hockey World Cup 2023: New Zealand script an epic comeback to knock India out of the WC

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The hosts India are knocked out of the Hockey World Cup 2023 by New Zealand in a penalty shootout. India agonizingly fall short of the finishing line losing 4-5 in the shootout where they were on the cusp of victory on several occasions but could not score the finishing goal to seal the match. 

India was comfortably cruising along to a victory at the end of the third quarter mark as they were leading by 3-1. Lalit Upadhyay scored the opening goal in the 17th minute to give the hosts an early lead in the match. Sukhjeet Singh’s goal in the 24th minute gave India a firm grip on the match. But the fiery New Zealand side responded in style by scoring their first goal in the 28th-minute courtesy of Sam Lane. 

The Kiwi fightback

India looked like the firm favorites to win the crossover match when Varun Kumar scored the third goal in the 40th minute. But New Zealand scripted a famous comeback to level the scores at the end of the 60 minutes. Kane Russell scored off a penalty corner in the 43rd minute to give New Zealand some hope to crawl back into the match. India looked lack lustered and out of strategy as they panicked in the last quarter playing without any plan. They were not able to convert countless penalty corners throughout the tournament scoring just 5 goals out of 26. New Zealand was able to find spaces in the field and could easily create chances through counterattacks catching India by surprise. Sin Findaly’s goal in the 49th minute crushed millions of Indian hopes as the whole Kalinga Stadium went silent. 

Hockey World Cup: India vs New Zealand Penalty shootout

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In the penalty shootout, Indian goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak put on a splendid performance but it was not enough to win the match for India. Sreejesh got injured in the shootout trying to block the goal of Woods. India failed to score the decisive goal in the shootout as they were leading twice in sudden death. 

After a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, India had high expectations to go all the way in the tournament. But the 12th-ranked New Zealand side stunned the 6th-ranked Indian side to progress to the quarterfinal of the tournament. New Zealand will meet the World Champions Belgium in the quarter-final. Indian coach Graham Reid pointed out that they need to appoint a “mental coach” going forward to deliver in the clutch moments.  

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