Women’s Hockey World Cup: India hold USA to 1-1 draw; keep hopes alive
India came back from a goal down to hold the USA to a 1-1 draw and progress to the knockout stages of the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup on Sunday.
Captain Rani Rampal scored an all-important equalising goal in the 31st minute after Margaux Paolino had put the USA on the front as early as the 11th minute.
Going into the final Pool B match, both India and USA needed at-least a draw to finish among the top three as both had drawn one and lost the another in their previous two matches. But India progressed. They will now take part in the playoffs which will decide the final four quarter-finalists. The USA, however, has been knocked out of the tournament.
India started brightly and by the end of the seventh minute they had secured their first penalty corner but failed to score.
America on the other slowly grew into the game and by the 11th minute had taken had taken an early lead after Paolino’s shot from outside the box was parried away by Indian goalkeeper Savita, but the rebound once again fell to the Australian and she scored, leaving Savita to gaze the ball as it ran away into the net.
Under immense pressure and facing the exit door, the Indians soon regrouped and earned two back-to-back penalty corners inside the first quarter itself. But drag-flicker Gurjit Singh missed the target from both the attempts. The USA then had their first penalty corner saved by the Indian defence.
Finally, after four wasted penalties, captain Rani converted the fifth to bring India back into the contest. Earlier the Indian skipper who had to leave the field in between to treat her twisted ankle also had a penalty corner wonderfully saved by America goalie Jackie Briggs. Savita too had to be alert when the USA earned their second and third penalty corners. She put up some brilliant saves to the keep the opponent ahead with a slender lead.
Confident and back to their best after the equaliser, India then showed great composure and urgency to attack the US goal in numbers. Soon they had a sixth penalty corner and this time Rani took a clever dummy and allowed Gurjit to take it. Her powerful low flick was however wonderfully saved by Briggs, who had an excellent game between the sticks.
Navjot came close in the 50th minute with a reverse hit, but it was saved by an American stick before the ball flew over the bar. India thereafter defended brilliantly to deny the USA any breakthrough to secure a well-deserved draw.