India crashed out of the 2023 Hockey World Cup 4-5 in the shootout against New Zealand in the crossover stage after the match ended 3-3 in regulation time. Shamsher Singh missed the decisive penalty in sudden death which caused the goalkeepers to make many saves. The visitors take on defending champions Belgium in the quarter-finals, while India take on Japan in the 9-16 ranking match on January 26.
Both sides started the game in rather confused fashion, with no clear chances to prevent Manpreet’s drive from the middle in the opening exchanges. Lalit Upadhyay played a bit of pinball in the opponent’s circle, but to no avail. India won their first penalty corner with just minutes left in the quarter, but Harmanpreet Singh’s effort was cleared off the line by Simon Child. Child was also on the move at the other end and PR forced Seresh into a good save.
New Zealand opened the second quarter with a golden opportunity to score, Kim Kingston at his mercy with a shot wide of the goal after Child’s excellent work down the right. They were forced to rue their loss moments later as Lalit opened the scoring in the 17th minute after excellent work from Akashdeep and Shamsher Singh on a counter-attack, giving his team-mate space on the right side of the circle. He took a touch and hit the ball into the bottom corner.
India looked set to score their second goal from another penalty corner, but Neelakantha’s effort was ruled out after Abhishek’s header. However, the hosts increased the pressure and doubled their lead in the 24th minute with their fourth PC of the game. Harmanpreet’s howitzer from PC was deflected by Dominic Dixon but Sukhjit slotted home an overhand shot. The guest always threatened and finally in the 28th minute they found their way once again.
At half-time, New Zealand had more circle penetration (10) than India (9) despite not having much possession. At half-time, Graham Reid noted that India needed to put more pressure on their opponents and hoped his side would keep things at the back, especially avoiding turnovers.
India took their coach’s words to heart and New Zealand remained silent for most of the third quarter. A flurry of penalty corners followed for the hosts, but Varun Kumar finally converted India’s seventh PC in the 40th minute with a low, direct effort from the middle and through Dixon’s legs. New Zealand responded with their first PC of the match minutes later, Kane Russell hitting an unstoppable shot straight through midwicket to make it 3-2, still in India’s favour.
The hosts saw their lead slip away five minutes into the quarter as Sean Findlay’s quick reactions came to the fore as he deflected a shot from a narrow angle into the net to level the scores. India were panicking in defense and Simon Child turned the ball over to set up Sam Haya, but Krishan Pathak produced a superb save to deny him. The away team increased the pressure and Haya had another effort on goal but the whistle was blown.
India had some relief when Nick Ross was shown a yellow card, but failed to create a clear-cut chance in their five-minute 11-10 lead. There was just about the last bite in the tail for the hosts, with Sam Lane making a point-blank save from Pathak with seconds to go, and he pointed the shot immediately after the shootout.
Both captains, Harmanpreet and Woods converted their efforts, the latter with a penalty kick after a check from Sreejesh. Raj Kumar showed his skills and blew Leon Hayward away with Findlay. Abhishek took his effort with a poor touch, allowing Hayward to smother his shot. Hayden Phillips used his syringe by squeezing his shot with just 0.02 seconds left on the clock. Shamsher and Lane both had their efforts saved which required Sukhjit to score and he did so with impeccable composure. Sam Hayha was denied the chance to win it for New Zealand, with Sreejesh saving it.
The tenacious Indian kept his team alive in sudden death as he denied Woods, injured, but Harmanpreet denied India a chance to win the game and fired early. Pathak could do nothing to deny Findlay, forcing Rajkumar Pal to coolly go home. Pathak then forced Hayden Phillips to send his effort wide but Sukhjit also had his effort smothered by Hayward. Sam Lane was fortunate to score later on from Pathak, tapping home the rebound after an early save. Shamsheer was forced to score to keep India’s World Cup hopes alive and his initial effort was blocked but the referee blew the whistle for a replay. However, his second effort was saved by Hayward, sparking scenes of wild celebration from the New Zealanders as they won 5-4 on penalties, sending a shocked India out of the World Cup much earlier than they thought. .