India suffered a shock exit from the 2023 Hockey World Cup, losing 4-5 in a shootout against New Zealand in the crossover stage, after the game finished 3-3 in regulation time. Shamsher Singh missed the decisive penalty in sudden death, which saw the goalkeepers make plenty of saves. The visitors go on to face defending champions Belgium in the quarterfinal, while India face Japan in the 9-16 classification game on the 26th of January.
Both sides began the game in a relatively cagey manner, with no clear chances barring a driving run from Manpreet through the middle in the opening exchanges. Lalit Upadhyay forced a bit of pinball in the opposition circle, but it amounted to nothing. India earned their first penalty corner with only a couple of minutes left in the quarter, but Simon Child cleared Harmanpreet Singh's effort of the line. Child was in the action at the other end as well, forcing PR Sreejesh into a fine save.
New Zealand started the second quarter with a gilt-edged chance to score, with Kim Kingstone shooting wide with the goal at his mercy after excellent work from Child down the right. They were made to rue their miss moments later, as Lalit opened the scoring in the 17th minute after excellent work from Akashdeep and Shamsher Singh in a counter-attack, affording their teammate acres of space in the right side of the circle, who took a touch and slammed the ball into the bottom corner.
India looked to have scored their second from another penalty corner, but Nilakanta's effort was ruled out after Abhishek's stick-check. However, the hosts amped up the pressure and with their fourth PC of the game, doubled their lead in the 24th minute. Harmanpreet's howitzer from the PC was deflected by Dominic Dixon, but Sukhjeet arrived to drive it home with an overhand shot. The visitors always posed a threat, and finally found their way through in the 28th minute courtesy Child once again, who was found on the backline by Sean Findlay and he passed to Sam Lane right in front of goal, who tapped it home.
As it happened: India vs New Zealand
At the halfway-mark New Zealand had more circle penetrations (10) than India (9), despite not having as much possession, simply underlining how even the contest was. At half-time, Graham Reid noted India had to press their opponents more, and hoped for his side to keep things tighter at the back, especially avoiding turnovers.
India took their coaches' words to heart, with New Zealand kept quiet for much of the third quarter. A spate of penalty corners for the hosts followed, but Varun Kumar finally converted India's seventh PC of the match in the 40th minute with a driven effort low and straight down the middle, through Dixon's legs. New Zealand responded minutes later with their first PC of the match, Kane Russell drag-flicking an unstoppable shot straight down the middle past Sreejesh to make it 3-2, still in India's favour.
The hosts saw their lead evaporate five minutes into the final quarter, with Sean Findlay's quick reflexes coming to the fore, deflecting a shot into the goal from a narrow angle, thus levelling the scores. India were panicking at the back with Simon Child turning the ball over and setting up Sam Hiha, but Krishan Pathak produced an excellent save to deny him. The visitors ramped up the pressure, with Hiha having another effort on goal but the whistle had blown in the build-up.
India were gifted some relief with Nick Ross picking up a yellow card, but were unable to fashion a clear chance in the five minutes of their 11v10 advantage. There was nearly a final sting in the tail for the hosts, with Sam Lane forcing a point-blank save from Pathak with seconds to go, with the hooter signalling a shootout soon after.
Both captains, Harmanpreet and Woods converted their efforts, the latter doing so from a penalty stroke after a stick-check from Sreejesh. Raj Kumar displayed his skills, bamboozling Leon Hayward with Findlay also converting his effort with a canny spin and shot. Abhishek fluffed his effort with a bad touch, allowing Hayward to smother his shot. Hayden Phillips took advantage squeezing his shot past Sreejesh, with the ball crossing the line with only 0.02 seconds left on the clock. Shamsher and Lane both saw their efforts saved, which required Sukhjeet to score and he did so with impeccable calm. Sam Hiha spurned the chance to win it for New Zealand, with Sreejesh saving.
The Indian stalwart kept his team alive in sudden death, suffering an injury while denying Woods, but Harmanpreet spurned the chance to win the game for India, shooting early. Pathak could do little to deny Findlay, requiring Raj Kumar Pal to coolly slot home. Pathak then forced Hayden Phillips into screwing his effort wide, but Sukhjeet also had his effort smothered by Hayward. Sam Lane was fortunate to score past Pathak next, tapping home the rebound after an initial save. Shamsher had to score to keep India's hopes alive in the World Cup, and his initial effort was saved but the referee whistled for a retake due to being impeded. However, his second effort was cleanly saved by Hayward, sparking scenes of wild celebration by the New Zealanders, as they won the shootout 5-4, with India looking on in shock, exiting the World Cup far earlier than they had imagined.