India put up a brilliant performance, but conceded late, to play out a 1-1 draw against the superior ranked England in their opening Pool B match of the women’s hockey World Cup on Saturday.
Neha Goyal gave India the lead in the 25th minute before Lily Owsley levelled the scores from a penalty corner in the 54th minute.
Facing the world number two, India matched hosts England stick on stick, but it was the latter who had the better chances earning as many as five penalty corners within the first two quarters.
The ladies in blue were however upto the task with goalkeeper Savita Punia pulling out some brilliant saves to keep England – who kept on earning penalty corners – at bay.
England needed just 32 seconds to earn their first PC, then by the eighth minute they had their second, but on both the occasions India averted the danger.
Savita then made two wonderful saves to deny England once again from penalty corners in the second quarter.
India were equally good in attacks as they were in thwarting the English thrusts and on a number of occasions they caught the English defence napping from open play.
It was from one such breakthrough that India took the lead in the 25th minute, when Neha found herself open in front of the goal, to stun the hosts.
The world number 10 then showed great awareness to hold on to their citadel, finishing the third quarter, still with a slender one goal lead.
But trailing by a goal, England went all-out in search of the important equaliser in the final quarter pushing India deep into their own-half. Then with seven minutes remaining for the final hoot, the Commonwealth bronze-medallist team secured another penalty corner and finally utilised the opportunity to tie the game.
Savita brilliantly saved the penalty corner but Owsley was well at hand to score from the rebound and snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.
In the end both sides settled for a draw but India will head back much happier after holding the second ranked team to a tie.
It was a much-improved performance from the Indians against the same England team that had hammered them 0-6 in the bronze medal match of the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.
India will play Ireland in their next Pool B match on July 26.