Indian hockey

CWG 2018, Hockey: Wasteful India punished by clinical New Zealand in semis, in contention for bronze

Manpreet Singh’s side conceded twice in the first half before making a spirited comeback in the second.

Indian men’s team’s quest for a gold in the Commonwealth Games came to an end on Friday against New Zealand, where they defeated 2-3 in the semi-finals.

India’s lackadaisical defence was ruthlessly cut open by their opponents in the first quarter, where they conceded two goals. A bruised Indian side made a stirring comeback in the second half with Harmanpreet Singh once again showing his drag-flick prowess. Ultimately, it was India’s wastefulness that was their downfall: only two of their 18 shots were on target.

In reply, New Zealand took seven shots and converted three of them. India will fight it out against either Australia or England for a bronze medal.

A clinical New Zealand tore into a meek Indian defence. Hugo Inglis on the left flank almost had a free run before unleashing a lethal shot from a close angle in only the sixth minute. A goalkeeper of PR Sreejesh’s pedigree and class should have been quicker in closing the shot down.

India went 0-2 down as the clock ticked towards the close of the first quarter. Minutes later, space once again opened up far too easily for the Black Sticks and they were ruthless in front of goal. Stephen Jenness easily got the better of Sreejesh and New Zealand were flying. India had failed to cash in on their sole opportunity – a penalty stroke – from Harmanpreet Singh as early as the third minute.

But Manpreet Singh and Co put in an improved display in the second quarter. The midfielders were pressing more aggressively to win the ball back and Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, and Dilpreet Singh were increasingly making a nuisance of themselves in the New Zealand circle.

There was salvation for India with barely a minute left till the end of the first half as skipper Arun Panchia committed a careless foul. India were initially awarded a penalty corner, which in turn became a penalty stroke: Harmanpreet Singh made no mistake from the spot seconds before the buzzer went off.

At half-time. Screenshot.
At half-time. Screenshot.

The second-half saw the Indians throw flood the circle with great gusto. The forward trio of Akashdeep, Dilpreet and Mandeep created a host of opportunities. On the attack, Kiwis created half-chances of their own. Luck deserted India as Kane Russell and Varun Kumar came together just inside the Indian circle. After much deliberation during the referral, New Zealand were awarded a corner. Russell, whose game nearly ended early in the third quarter after a clash of legs with Manpreet, turned architect for his side’s third goal.

With a smart dive, Sreejesh kept out the penalty corner, but from a congested area, Russell managed to scoop the ball towards Marcus Child who dabbed the ball home to give his side a two-goal cushion.

The final quarter saw slapdash hockey from both teams. India were culpable of not creating opportunities from promising situations yet again. Sreejesh gave his team a chance with a point-blank save. With three minutes left, Harmanpreet scored his second but there was no late drama this time. New Zealand’s defence were simply too robust to collapse. The Kiwis chase their first Commonwealth gold.

At full-time. Screenshot.
At full-time. Screenshot.
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.