India got off the blocks in style beating New Zealand 4-3 in a thrilling FIH Pro League opener on Friday at the Kalinga Stadium.
Mandeep Mor, 23, opened the scoring in the 13th minute as Nilakanta Sharma, while surrounded by three New Zealand players, threaded a pinpoint pass to the defender on the right. A late reaction from the Black Sticks goalkeeper Dominic Dixon saw the ball slip past his left leg and into the far post.
New Zealand responded eight minutes later when Sam Lane’s shot off Simon Child’s injection during a penalty corner found Surender Kumar’s foot in front of goal. Lane put away the resulting penalty stroke.
New Zealand took an early lead in the second half as Sean Findlay’s cross found Child, who relayed it to Jake Smith, who ultimately slid in to work it past PR Sreejesh. A minute later, NZ scored a third through Lane when the shot stopper lost his balance, in an attempt to block.
Harmanpreet Singh breathed life into the Indian dugout, converting a penalty stroke in the 41st minute despite the New Zealand custodian George Enersen diving the right way.
Veteran Mandeep Singh provided the telling blows in the end for India. He combined with Mor to find the back of the net from the tightest of angles on the left to equalise before firing into the bottom corner in the 56th minute to help the host bag all three points.
Score: India 4 (Mandeep Mor 13’, Harmanpreet Singh 41’, Mandeep Singh 51’ 56’) – 3 New Zealand (Sam Lane 22’ 35’, Jake Smith 34’)