Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Amid nerve wrecking tension India rode on Lalremsiami ‘s penalty corner conversion in the last quarter to overpower spirited Canada 3-2 to book semifinal berth in the Women’s Hockey Tournament at at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.
Salima Tete (3′), Navneet Kaur (22′) and Lalremsiami (51′) scored a goal each for the winners nwhile, Brienne Stairs (23′) and Hannah Haughn (39′) scored for Canada.
India made heavy weather of their win after taking 2-0 lead by 22nd minutes and after that they not only surrendered the lead but had to wage a struggle for survival for the rest of the match.
The girls in blue looked in command in the first quarter and dominated the early part of the second quarter but suddenly Canadian onslaught created a panic in their circle and they looked vulnerable.
It was indeed surprising to see Indian game plan going haywire as the Canadians went on the offensive and a match which looked easy picking for Savita led side became matter of life and death for them
India were off to an aggressive start and earned a Penalty Corner in the third minute Navneet Kaur produced a fantastic ball from the left flank and Salima Tete tapped the ball into the goal ( 1-0)
Vandana Katariya made a great run through the left flank, but she couldn’t find a way to extend India’s lead. The Indians cntinued to put pressure on their opponents and went into the first break with the lead in their hands.
In the second quarter India kept the momentum and held most of the ball possession . In the 22nd minute, Lalremsiami carried out a fine pass from the right flank to Navneet, who struck the ball into the goal to help India extend their lead at 2-0.
However, a minute later Canada’s Brienne Stairs converted a Penalty Corner to reduce the lead (2-1)
Buyoed by this goal the Canadians made a few inroads into the Indian circle and Madeline Secco took a shot in the 29th minute, but the ball went wide off the right post.
Lalremsiami tried to find a way to penetrate the circle from the right flank in the third quarter, however, she could not breach the rival defence .
In the 39th minute, Canada earned a Penalty Corner and Hannah Haughn found the back of the net to equalize the score at 2-2.
After drawing the parity, they earned back-to-back Penalty Corners in the last minute of the third quarter, but failed to convert them.
The Indian had a chance to regain the lead in the opening minutes of the final quarter, but the Canadian defenders foiled that attack. As time ticked away Indian got desperate for the goal and in the 51st minute they earned a penalty corner and this time Lalremsiami converted it to give her side 3-2 lead. Six minutes later Vandana Katariya made a fine solo effort but missed the target Both the teams attacked each other in the dying minutes of the game without any success.