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Olympic Women Hockey: India pays for missed chances lose 1-4 to Great Britain

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Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi: India huffed and puffed, missed chances galore and went down 1-4 to defending champion Great Britan in the Pool A of the Olympic Women’s hockey competition in Tokyo on Wednesday.

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This was India’s third successive defeat and they have so far conceded 11 goals while scoring two. 

 Rani Rampaul led team will now have to win the remaining two matches against Ireland and South Africa as even a draw in one of these two matches will end their hopes for the quarterfinals

Great Britain made a brisk start and took the lead in just 75 seconds into the match. After an attacking move down the right flank, Great Britain managed to shoot at the cage but goalkeeper Savita brought off a brilliant save. However, Great Britain midfielder Hannah Martin made no mistake in sending the ball home on the rebound 

Great Britain dominated the early proceedings in the match, as 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. 

The defending champions ended the first quarter with 71% ball possession and 1-0 lead.

In the second quarter Indian girls raised their game and played more aggressive hockey from the outset. However, they suffered a setback in the 19th minute as Hannah Martin scored her second goal of the game to double the lead (2-0)

 Though 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 trailing 0-2 ,India  kept attacking and increasingly controlled the possession of the ball.  In the 23rd minute they earned a penalty corner  .Young forward Sharmila Devi’s quick-fire deflection off Gurjit Kaur’s drag flick ensured India their first goal. 

The following minutes saw India making more forays into the rival citadel 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 opened with India receiving a flurry of penalty corners  Deep Grace Ekka was on drag flicking duty this time, but they 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. 

 India commenced the last 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 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 to enable her team to a 4 -1 victory.

 HSB

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