The Indian Women’s Hockey Team out-played New Zealand to secure a sensational 3-1 win in their second pool B match in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024 here at the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Munda Astro Turf on Sunday.
India's goals were scored by Sangita Kumari (1'), Udita (12') and Beauty Dung Dung (14') while New Zealand's lone goal came from Megan Hull (9'). A goal in the opening minute of the match gave India a flying start in this must-win game against New Zealand after a disappointing 0-1 loss to the United States on Saturday.
It was home-grown prodigy Sangita Kumari from Simdega who applied the finishing touch after Neha set up Salima Tete to drive into the circle. Although in the very next minute, New Zealand won the first PC of the match they could not get the trapping right.
In the meantime, India did well to patiently build on their game and puncture New Zealand’s defence. Both teams traded PCs in the following minutes but eventually, it was New Zealand who found success as Megan Hull created just enough space to get a perfect hit to make the post in the 9th minute.
Four minutes later, Lalremsiami did well in the circle to help India win a PC and this time it was birthday girl Udita who converted a fine PC with a powerful slap shot. India continued their rampaging form in the first quarter as they extended their lead to 3-1 in the 14th minute when Salima and Beauty Dung Dung – both from Jharkhand – worked in tandem to fetch the third goal for the hosts.
A sensational 3-1 lead put India in a comfortable position going into the second quarter. Though there were no goals in this quarter, with the tempo slowing down a bit after a fast-paced first 15 minutes, there were strong spells by Beauty, Salima and Deepika who kept the packed audience on the edge of their seats.
New Zealand came out of the ten-minute half-time break with a fresh intent and spirit in their game. They won a couple of PCs in this quarter but India’s defence was on point, not allowing the visitors to narrow their lead. India Captain Savita too made a sensational save to keep the New Zealanders from scoring through a PC.
Nisha too was worthy of praise with her diligent blocking. India too created a couple of opportunities in the following minutes but didn’t convert. India’s defenders continued to put all their heart into keeping their team in a 3-1 lead.
They intercepted almost all of New Zealand’s long balls and managed the backline efficiently. Though New Zealand tried their best to come back in the final moments of the match, India held their nerves to seal three points from this match.
On 16th January India will take on Italy at 1930 hrs. Matches will be live on Sports18 / Jio Cinema.