India quash Chinese challenge

Kakamigahara (Japan),
The Indian women’s hockey team celebrated the news of its qualification for the World Cup with a stunning win over pool favourites China in the Asia Cup here today.

India, who qualified after South Africa won the African Championships on Sunday, dished out an all-round performance to stun the tournament’s top-ranked team 4-1 and register their second consecutive victory. Gurjit Kaur (19th minute), Navjot Kaur (32nd), Neha Goyal (49th) and skipper Rani Rampal (58th) scored in the win that took India to the top of Pool A. India had defeated Singapore 10-0 in their opener.

India earned one penalty corner in the first quarter but couldn’t convert as the first quarter ended in a stalemate. But four minutes into the second quarter, drag-flick specialist Gurjit Kaur scored a splendid goal, her second in the tournament.

Two minutes after the change of ends, India doubled their lead through Navjot Kaur’s field strike, her third goal in two matches.

But a defensive error in the circle saw India concede a penalty corner in the 38th minute. China were quick to capitalise on the opportunity and pulled one goal back through Qiuxia Cui’s successful conversion.

China pushed hard in search of the equaliser in the final quarter but failed to break the resolute Indian defence. India made life more difficult for their opponents when Neha Goyal found the back of the Chinese net after a variation from a set-piece. In the last 10 minutes, both the teams traded penalty corners.

While India won two penalty corners, China secured one. However, both the sides failed to utilise the chances. The action, however, didn’t end there as skipper Rani took her tournament tally to three goals with a sensational field goal in the 58th minute. India will next play Malaysia in their last pool match tomorrow.

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