Lacklustre India began their campaign in the 21st Azlan Shah Cup hockey with an embarrassing 1-5 defeat at the hands of speedy New Zealand here on Thursday.
Starting with an opportunistic strike past a rusty Indian defence in the opening minute, New Zealand ripped through the
Indian backline as five different players registered their names in the scoresheet to repeat their runway victory last year.
New Zealand, who are drawn in the same group as India in the London Olympic Games, had outplayed India 7-3 in the 2011 Azlan Shah Cup, when India finished sixth in a field of seven nations despite starting as double defending champions.
Simon Child (1st minute), Andy Hayward (34th), Nick Wilson (32nd), Stephen Jenness (61st) and Matt L'huillier (65th) scored for New Zealand, who only the previous night had one of their players, Blair Hilton ruled out of the tournament after undergoing an emergency operation for appendicitis.
India's lone goal came through Shivendra Singh in the sixth minute, which kept the scores leval at 1-1 until the 34th minute.
New Zealand stunned the Indian defence in the opening minute of play when defender Sandeep Singh faltered in stopping a long shot inside the circle. Child made India pay for the lapse by picking up the ball and slamming it into the boards despite two defenders and the goalkeeper being in the circle.
India drew parity five minutes later when Shivendra received a long through pass from Birender Lakra and beat a defender before slotting it past New Zealand custodian Kyle Pontifex.
The Indian defence wilted under New Zealand's persistent attack midway in the first session, but just managed to hang on as goalkeeper P R Sreejesh warded off a series of shots in three successive penalty corners in the 16th minute.
India's chief coach Michael Nobbs was left fuming at his wards lacklustre performance.
He said the game was a "reality check" for the erstwhile giants of the game.
The Australian said his wards were just not good enough to tackle the Black Sticks in the second half of the match.
"I am more angry than disappointed. Our game's pattern just fell apart in the second half," Nobbs said.
"We made silly errors and built pressure upon ourselves. New Zealand are ranked seventh in the world, and that's because they are a very good side," Nobbs added as he tried to put the game in perspective.
Nobbs said New Zealand were a very experienced side and had results to show for their world ranking in recent years.
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