Pukekohe (New Zealand), May 14 (IANS) Hosts New Zealand handed India a 4-1 drubbing in the first of the five-match women’s hockey series which began here at the Rosa Birch Park in Pukekohe here on Sunday.

Anupa Barla (31st minute) was the lone scorer for India while for the hosts, Jordan Grant (13th), Olivia Merry (23rd), Rachael McCann (43rd), Deanna Ritchie (55th) found the back of the net.

Both teams were quick to get off the blocks with hosts New Zealand building pressure on the Indian women with an attacking game. However, the Indian eves led by Rani lived up to the challenge, not allowing easy opportunities to the Black Sticks.

A resilient New Zealand found their first breakthrough in the 13th minute when Jordan Grant converted a field goal to end the first quarter with a 1-0 lead.

Olivia Merry scored a 23rd-minute goal to put further pressure on India.

Though New Zealand dominated the first two-quarters, the 10-minute break during half-time helped the Indian eves recover from a 0-2 deficit with Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne bringing in vital strategic changes.

Anupa converted a field goal only 40 seconds into the third quarter and narrow the goal difference to 1-2.

The Indian forwards led by the experienced Vandana Katariya vied to equalise, but they could not succeed. Meanwhile, Rachael McCann scored New Zealand’s third goal in the 43rd minute to end the third quarter at 3-1.

A defensive error in the circle by India caused them dearly with New Zealand’s Deanna Ritchie scoring the fourth goal for the hosts in the 55th minute.

Though India made several attempts to come back into the game, trying to create space, New Zealand’s defence proved too strong to break. Thus the match ended with a 4-1 win for New Zealand.

The two teams will play the second match of the five-match series on May 16.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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