Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: India returned to podium after a gap of 16 years as they beat New Zealand in Shoot Out 1-1 (2-1) to win the bronze in the Women’s Hockey Tournament in Brimingham on Sundayd the Bronze Medal in the Commonwealth Games 2022 with a 1-1 (2-1 SO) superb win over New Zealand in Birmingham.
India had won the Gold in the inaugural edition of the Women’s hockey competition in 2002 at Manchester and then bronze in 2006 after that as tit has been long 16-year wait for the medal which ended today.
The 3rd place match turned out to be thriller in which Salima Tete (29′) for India the lead while Olivia Merry (60′) drew parity for New Zealand and push the match to a Shoot-Out.
Savita made three sensational saves in the Shoot-Out, while Sonika and Navneet Kaur struck past Kiwi goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon as India pulled off a thrilling Bronze medal win,
India opened cautiously, holding the ball in the midfield. Navneet Kaur and Vandana Katariya penetrated the circle in the early minutes, but New Zealand defence cleared away the danger.
Nisha made a solid save after Rose Tynan made a dangerous pass inside the circle. Salima Tete almost put her team in the lead after India forced their way into the Kiwi circle through the central channel, but her shot just went wide
In the second quarter India made circle penetrations from the left flank that kept the Kiwi defence on their toes.
Navneet Kaur created a chance to get a shot on target but rival defenders were alert to foil that attack.
A counter-attacking move was set up Rose Tynan as she struck a shot towards Alex Lukin in front of the goal. But the ball just went wide and the Kiwis missed the opportunity to score. Salima Tete broke the shackles and found the back of the nets with a reverse hit (1-0 ).
New Zealand started showcasing urgency at the start of second half, and pressed deeper in India’s half. Sonika broke into the circle from the left flanks, and Lalremsiami managed to get a shot, but was denied by a Kiwi defender. Neha and Navneet Kaur created a beautiful chance for India to extend their lead. But the pass to Sonika in front of the goalpost just went wide.
Before the end of the third quarter, New Zealand managed to hit the ball into the nets. But India used their referral well and the goal was disallowed due to an infringement in the lead-up.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, India burst into New Zealand’s half with Sushila Chanu making threatening runs from the central channel. Kaitlin Cotter got a shot away from an acute angle, but Indian goalkeeper Savita made a good save, only to see the ball go to Olivia Shannon. Shannon’s shot, though, went above the goalpost.
India had several Penalty Corner opportunities, but the Kiwi goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon foiled most of them .
Olivia Merry scored from a penalty stroke in the final seconds of the regulation time (1-1) to push the match to a Shoot-Out.
Megan Hull scored from New Zealand’s first attempt in the Shoot-Out, while Sangita Kumari missed first attempt. Savita pulled off a great save as she denied Ralph Hope.
Sonika levelled the score line at the Shoot-out as she struck past Grace O’Hanlon. Rose Tynan struck the side netting, but Navneet Kaur struck past Grace as India took a 2-1 lead in the Shoot-Out.
With Katie Doar and Olivia Shannon missing for the Kiwis, India won the match iand the Bronze medal.