Uthappa’s brace gives Indian hockey team 2-1 win

Auckland, Oct 3 (IANS) Attacking midfielder S.K. Uthappa scored a brace as the Indian men’s hockey team overcame New Zealand A 2-1 to register their second consecutive victory on their Kiwi tour here on Saturday.

Karnataka linkman Uthappa found the net twice in the fifth and 34th minutes to facilitate the win for the 2014 Asian Games champions, who will now face New Zealand in Nelson on Tuesday. India on Friday defeated the New Zealand A side 3-1 in their first match.

During the match, the first quarter saw the Indians on spirits. They made the most of a small opening as experienced forward S.V. Sunil entered the rival circle and passed the ball to fellow attacker Nikkin Thimmaiah, who fed Uthappa for a field goal in the fifth minute.

The goal gave India the much sort after early lead as they pushed ahead by maintaining ball possession and inflicting regular pressure on the home team.

Indians started the second quarter on a high as they took over from where they left and were seen in the opponent’s semi-circle trying to score on the opportunities. New Zealand also tried to pull things back but neither of the team managed to score in the 15 minutes.

After the lemon break, the Indians upped the ante as soon as the third quarter began. Again it was Uthappa’s sheer brilliance which helped India doubled the lead.

The 23-year-old from Kodagu district, who will play for Kalinga Lancers for the next two editions of the Hockey India League (HIL), entered the D and beating the New Zealand A goalkeeper for a brilliant field goal in the 34th minute.

The last quarter saw New Zealand A being awarded with a penalty corner but unfortunately for them it was effortlessly save by Indian custodian P.R. Sreejesh.

But New Zealand A persisted with their endeavour to open their account and finally in the 57th minute, Stephen Jenness scored a field goal, reducing the margin to one.

With no further goals being scored, India won 2-1.

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