Tokyo (Japan): Goalkeeeper Savita brought off some stunning saves as India held China to a goalless draw and made it to the final of the Women Hockey Olympic Test Event at the Oi Stadium here on Tuesday.
With a tally of five points from three matches, India topped the points table, and will now face hosts and World No. 14 Japan in the Final Wednesday. Indian girls looked in good rhythm during the initial stages of the first quarter, and constantly built pressure on the Chinese defense. The World No. 10 side looked comfortable in possession, and rotated the ball well to threaten their opponents in the opening 10 minutes, which also reflected when they won their first Penalty Corner of the match in the 8th minute.
India’s Penalty Corner expert, Gurjit Kaur, stepped up to take the set-piece, but could not find the back of the net as the Chinese Goalkeeper Dongxiao Li deflected the ball away from danger. China looked to attack the Indians on the counter, but could not find an opening in the first quarter as the scores remained 0-0.
India started the second quarter also with great attacking flair, and won themselves their second Penalty Corner in the 17th minute. Gurjit Kaur tried to aim for the other side this time, but her try was again denied by Li.
The following minutes saw both the teams battle it out in midfield, with neither team giving much space and time to their opponents in the final third. Some impressive performances in defense for both the teams meant that it remained goal-less at the half-time break.
China needed the victory to make sure that they progress to the Final of the competition but India’s defense was up to the task, and seemed determined to consolidate their position at the top of the points table. The third quarter saw China coming close to taking the lead in the 41st minute through their first Penalty Corner, but goalkeeper Savita made a great save to deny her opponents, and the defense cleared the ball. It was a moment which could have turned the match around, but the 29-year-old Indian made sure that China could not take an important lead.
A similar moment took place in the last quarter as well when China were awarded their second Penalty Corner in the 47th minute, and Savita came to team’s rescue again and denied the rivals chance to score.
India also had a few chances to take the lead in the following minutes, but could not find the breakthrough as Chinese defended well. The situation became quite tense for both the teams in the last few minutes of the match, but it was China who won themselves back-to-back Penalty Corners with just two minutes remaining on the clock.
However, the Indian defense stood up to the task and managed to block the first attempt, and then Savita saved the second penalty corner to earn her team a much deserved draw, and with it, a place in the Final.