New Zealand women’s hockey team took an unassailable 3-0 lead after beating Indian 2-3 in a five-match series being played between the two sides. India fought hard till the end but were unable to find an equaliser. India put up a structured unit and their attacks put New Zealand on the backfoot several times during the match. India’s aggressive approach paid off in the first quarter when they took a 1-0 lead.
Deep Grace Ekka converted a hard-hit penalty corner to give India the advantage. Before that she had made an attempt that found the foot of an opposition defender. But New Zealand found the equaliser without wasting much time as Ella Gunson scored in the 13th minute.
New Zealand then got the lead when Deanna Ritchie scored in the 15th minute. India created opportunities in the second quarter as they earned back to back penalty corners in the 26th minute. But New Zealand came up with a textbook defence strategy to clear Ritu Rani’s strike.
Rani played a crucial role for India as she made space in the striking circle on several occasions, going for her trademark reverse-hit on goal but New Zealand keeper Sally Rutherford promptly denied the Indian skipper of a successful strike. New Zealand scored their third goal through Shiloh Gloyn in the 39th minute.
India were put on the backfoot in the third quarter but the Indian goalkeeper did well to deny New Zealand from pulling away. This included a crucial save from a penalty corner.
With less than two minutes remaining in the last quarter, India won a penalty corner that was converted by Monika. The final minutes of the match was mostly about India trying to find another equaliser and New Zealand putting up a rock solid defence to deny the visitors.
It was a much improved performance from India as compared to the second match that the two sides played. India shipped eight goals in that match to go down to a crushing 2-8 defeat. The two teams will play their fourth match on May 19.