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India look to clinch hockey series against New Zealand 

Christchurch, Oct 10 (IANS) Having registered two consecutive victories, a confident India will look to claim a bilateral hockey series triumph when they face New Zealand in the fourth and final match here on Sunday.

After going down in the first game in Nelson, World No.8 India came back strongly to go 2-1 up and come Sunday, a hat-trick of wins will give them a morale boosting series victory over New Zealand, who are ranked seventh.

“The team is very positive after the consecutive victories against the home side. I have seen a significant improvement in the boys and they have immensely worked on their strategies and tactics by rectifying their mistakes committed in the first match,” India chief coach and high performance director Roelant Oltmans said in a release.

“Our defence is a huge strength for us and I hope we conclude the final game of the tour on a winning note,” the Dutchman added.

In the final game of the tour, India will look to continue their attacking strategy and look for early goals to keep pressure on New Zealand. The forward line, led by S.V. Sunil, displayed a brilliant performance as they pushed the Kiwi defenders throughout the series. Nikkin Thimmaiah, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh continuously attacked the opponent’s circle and did not allow the opponent’s defence to settle down.

They were well supported by midfielders, led by captain Sardar Singh, who covered almost all parts of the field and kept the opponent’s players busy all the time. Dharamvir Singh, who scored the last minute goal in the previous match, S.K. Uthappa, Devindar Walmiki and Chinglensana Singh will continue with their control on the midfield in the final match also.

With quick passes and surprise attacks, New Zealand will have to prepare themselves better to avoid three defeats in a row.

India successfully held their goal-post with the strong defence line that includes Birendra Lakra, V.R. Raghunath, Kothajit Singh, Gurjinder Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh. The New Zealand attackers found it difficult to capitalise the opportunities into goals. However, they managed to earn penalty corners but goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh displayed exceptional skills.

“The team is now more confident after last two wins against the Black Sticks. The aim will be to put pressure on New Zealand from the onset and work on all departments beginning with defence, ball possession and attack,” Sardar said.

“I hope we continue the winning streak and confront the opponents confidently tomorrow to come up as winners,” the 28-year-old added.

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