Amandeep Lakra struck a hat-trick as the Indian junior men's hockey team remained on course to defend its title, stunning New Zealand 6-2 to enter the semifinals of the Sultan of Johor Cup on Monday. (Hockey News)
Lakra (2nd, 7th, 35th), Arun Sahani (12th, 53rd) and Poovanna Chandura Boby (52nd) got on the scoresheet for India, while Luke Aldred (29th, 60th) scored a brace for New Zealand.
India made a positive start and earned a PC in the opening minute of the match. Lakra was on target to capitalise from the early opportunity, flicking the ball powerfully past New Zealand goalkeeper Luke Elmes, and earning a confidence-inducing 1-0 lead in the second minute.
The pressure continued to pile on New Zealand in the following moments with India picking up yet another PC in the seventh minute.
Lakra again stepped up to unleash a fierce flick to double India's lead. The defending champions remained persistent in testing New Zealand's defence as they scored their third goal in the 12th minute, thanks to Sahani's cross from the left wing deflecting off Luke Elmes into the goal.
With a formidable 3-0 lead, India started the second quarter in a similar fashion with Uttam Singh leading India's charge in the forwardline, setting up a skilful one-on-one tackle with the goalie.
However, he was unable to put it past Elmes.
Later in the quarter, New Zealand tried to regain their footing in the game and finally were able to score that elusive first goal when Luke Aldred converted a fine PC in the 29th minute.
India made an attacking start in the third quarter. Their efforts resulted in a PC and Lakra struck his third to complete a stunning hat-trick.
The 35th-minute goal put India in command with a 4-1 lead.
New Zealand began the last quarter with hope to bounce back in the game but the Indian defence remained resolute.
India created crucial chances that would fetch two more goals this quarter. In the 52nd minute, Poovanna scored India's fifth goal through a PC, while Arun Sahani struck his second goal in the 53rd minute taking India's lead to 6-1.
With seconds left in the game, an infringement by India's defence meant New Zealand got a final go at the goal and Luke Aldred ensured he was on point, putting the ball past Mohith with a well-executed flick.