Tokyo, July 28: The Indian Women’s Hockey Team played out a hard-fought encounter against Great Britain in their third Pool A match of the Tokyo Olympics, which ended 4-1 in favour of the defending Olympic champions.
The match saw free flowing attacking hockey being played by both sides, with World Number 5 side Great Britain emerging winners due to efficient chance conversion.
Team Great Britain made a quick start and got the opening goal of the game just 75 seconds into the match. After an attacking move down the right flank, Great Britain managed to shoot on Team India’s goal which drew a fantastic reaction save from Indian goalkeeper Savita.
However, Great Britain midfielder Hannah Martin was on hand to capitalise on the deflected shot and score the opening goal of the game. Great Britain dominated the early proceedings in the match, as Team India gradually grew into the game. India managed to claim two penalty corners late in the first quarter but drag flicker Gurjit Kaur’s efforts were blocked by the opposition. Great Britain ended the first quarter with 71% ball possession and 1-0 lead.
As the second quarter began, India looked to force a higher tempo and play more aggressive hockey from the outset. However, Team India suffered a setback in the 19th minute as Hannah Martin scored her second goal of the game to double Great Britain’s lead to 2-0. Though Indian goalkeeper Savita made a valiant effort to save the initial shot from Sarah Jones, midfielder Hannah Martin gathered the rebound and expertly manoeuvred the ball to score with a backhand stroke.
Despite the setback, India continued to play aggressive hockey and increasingly kept more possession of the ball. Team India got their reward in the 23rd minute when India were awarded a PC. Young forward Sharmila Devi’s quick-fire deflection off Gurjit Kaur’s drag flick ensured India their first goal. The following minutes saw India play with more confidence after getting the goal and dominated the final seven minutes of the half. The first half ended with six circle penetrations from India, compared to Great Britain’s seven.
The third quarter began with India receiving a flurry of penalty corners soon after the restart. Deep Grace Ekka was on drag flicking duty this time, but India could not score from their three attempts. It was Great Britain’s turn to receive a penalty corner in the 32nd minute, who improvised from a fumble to get off a shot on target, which was saved by Savita. Savita made three brilliant saves from penalty corners to keep India in the game.
In the meantime, India got another penalty corner in the 37th minute of the match; their 7th of the game but could not to convert again. Great Britain scored a crucial third goal in the 41st minute through experienced forward Lily Owsley to go up 3 -1 and restore their two-goal advantage.
Team India began the fourth quarter with attacking intent, lining up with four forwards after the restart in an attempt to chase the game. They were almost rewarded in the 48th minute when India Captain Rani combined with forward Vandana Katariya created a goal scoring opportunity.
Vandana’s fierce backhand stroke drew an impressive save from goalkeeper Claire Hinch. With mounting pressure, India’s infringement while defending in their circle, gave away a crucial penalty stroke that saw Great Britain extend their lead in the 57th minute. Grace Balsdon converted the penalty stroke that saw Great Britain march to a 4 -1 victory.