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Home » Sports » Tokyo Olympics: Harmanpreet Singh, PR Sreejesh Heroics Help India Beat New Zealand 3-2 in Opener

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Tokyo Olympics: Harmanpreet Singh, PR Sreejesh Heroics Help India Beat New Zealand 3-2 in Opener

India are currently ranked fourth in the world and after several years have a strong chance of winning a medal in hockey. India last won a gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics which was boycotted by the United States and the majority of the top teams.

India's Harmanpreet Singh, right, celebrates with Surender Kumar, left, after defeating New Zealand after a men's field hockey match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Indian Men’s Hockey Team started their Olympic journey with a win as they defeated New Zealand 3-2 in their opening match. Harmanpreet Singh was the star for the Men in Blue with a brace along with goalkeeper P R Sreejesh who made some brilliant saves in the dying minutes of the game as the opponent looked to equalise. For the Kiwis, it was Kane Russell and Stephen Jenness who were on target.

New Zealand opened the scoring with Russell scoring from a penalty corner in the sixth minute.

However, India replied back with Rupinder Pal Singh just four minutes later as the Men in Blue earned a penalty stroke.

New Zealand came with the intention to win and kept the Indian defence on toes but were let down by their own finishing as they failed to score from four consecutive penalty corners.

New Zealand’s Hugo Inglis, right, collides with India’s Amit Rohidas (30) during a men’s field hockey match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan (PTI Photo)

India on the other hand played the perfect counter-attacking game as Singh gave India the lead in the 23rd minute.

Three minutes later India scored another as Manpreet found the goal from a penalty corner 

India secured another penalty corner minutes later but this time Harmanpreet’s effort was saved by the Kiwi defence.

 But the match came to life when Jenness scored with a lovely finish past Sreejesh at the near post in the 43rd minute. 

Three minutes from full time,Lalit Upadhayay’s strike from top of the circle was blocked brilliantly by Hayward to keep New Zealand in the hunt.

India midfielder Sumit (17) takes a shot on New Zealand goalkeeper Leon Hayward (20) during a men’s field hockey match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan (PTI Photo)

It was all New Zealand in the final few minutes of the game as they pressed hard for the equaliser and in the process earned three penalty corners in quick succession but Sreejesh came to India’s rescue making some brilliant saves to keep the opponents at bay.

With 24 seconds to go, New Zealand secured another penalty corner but once again the experienced Sreejesh came to India’s rescue and helped his side secure full points from the game.

With inputs from PTI

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