Hastings (New Zealand):
Indian women’s hockey team’s dismal run continued as they suffered a narrow 1-2 loss against World No. 5 China in their last pool B match of the Hawke’s Bay Cup here. After a goalless first quarter, Rani gave India the lead in the 19th minute but Yu Qian scored the equaliser for China in the third quarter before Wang Mengyu sealed the match with another goal in the final quarter.
The match started slowly with most of the battles taking place in the midfield and both teams struggling to penetrate the circle. China had the best opportunity in the first quarter with a penalty corner which was well saved by Savita.
India came to life in the second quarter early with Rani scoring off a swiftly-worked counter from the right, giving India the lead in the 19th minute. China immediately hit back, and won a pelanty corner of their own, but another save from Savita ensured India went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
The third quarter saw resolute defending from India, as China controlled most of the possession. Monika, in particular, was very good at marshalling the defence and dropping deep to ensure the numbers denied China openings for goal. With the last play of the quarter though, China scored the equaliser through Yu Qian.
The final quarter saw several chances fall for both teams as they tried to take full points. Deepika, took charge and had a couple of half chances that went wide of the post. Wang Mengyu scored the winner for China through a PC with five minutes left on the clock.
Speaking after the game, coach CR Kumar said, “We gave a tough game today to a team that are higher ranked than us. Crucial mistakes at the end of the final quarters denied us the points. Our defence was secure, but we now need to focus on getting the ball upfield quicker to score goals.”
India play Japan in their quarterfinal game on April 7. India had lost to New Zealand and Ireland in their last two matches.