India held by NZ in Champions Challenge opener

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India twice squandered lead to settle for a 2-2 draw with New Zealand in their Champions Challenge opener on Monday.

Updated: December 07, 2009 16:42 IST
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Salta Argentina:

India twice squandered lead to settle for a 2-2 draw with New Zealand in their Champions Challenge opener here on Monday.

India went into the breather with a 1-0 cushion after Tushar Khandker had earned them the lead before Dean Couzins equalised in the 47th minute.

Shivendra Singh once again put India ahead but New Zealand once again equalised, this time through Andrew Hayward, to split points.

The Kiwis were on the offensive early in the match with Ryan Archibald looking in ominous form. The Indians defence, however, did a neat job, ensuring that Adrian D'Souza was not really troubled under the bar.

Still, Phillip Burrows nearly score on one occasion when his deflection from close range missed the mark by a whisker, much to the relief of the Indians.

India relied more on counter-attacks at that stage and one such move culminated with Khandker sounding the board.

Desperate for the equaliser, the Black Sticks besieged the Indian goal but Sardar Singh and his colleagues in the Indian defence ensured there was no setback till breather.

The Kiwis were unrelenting even after the break but the Indian defence looked impregnable till the 47th minute when Dean Couzins converted a penalty-stroke, completely wrong-footing goal-keeper D'Souza.

For India, Shivendra Singh nearly scored from the next attack but his deflection from close range hit the post. Soon, he got a similar opportunity and this time the Indian made no mistake and beat Kyle Pontifex all ends up as India regained the lead.

New Zealand, however, simply refused to throw in the towel and were rewarded for their resilience when Andrew Hayward scored from a penalty-corner.

Both the teams then went all out for the winner and played attacking brand of hockey but could not breach each other's defence.

In other matches, Argentina spanked South Africa 6-2, Pakistan edged out Canada 2-1 and Belgium prevailed over China 4-3.

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