By Michael Nobbs
Well, another game under our belt. We started off playing very well. We had more room to play our style and that paid off early. We had most of the control of the game for the first 25 mins where we led 3-0 thanks to SV Sunil, Yuvraj Walmiki and Raghunath.
After that it was a very even tussle. The second half was a different story. NZ came out hard and we defended well until some lapses in defense and they found the net three times to equalise.
We struck back again with a classic attack down the right wing, crossed the ball and Tushar belted it away. We were then two goals up and some very sloppy defense cost another goal late in the game but we managed to eke out a 5-4 win.
NZ are a very tough team physically and this poses a problem. As we thought, we are 6-8 kilos lighter than our Australian and European counterparts. In the next game, Pakistan played a very tired Australian A team and won 2-1 but still Australia should have won, missing many chances that they put away in previous games. What was interesting to note was the Pakistan team were no match physically and were brushed aside in all physical tackles against Australia.
David John our exercise physiologist said will require 7-8 months to build up our physical size so as to match the top teams in the world. We start the Super series on Wednesday night and have been informed by Rick Charlesworth that there might be some more minor variations to the rules. It will be a very interesting tournament and any team could win. Hopefully it's us. However, Australia will be playing its full strength line up.
(Michael Nobbs is the Indian men's hockey coach)