Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Brave Indian hockey eves go down 1-2 to 5th ranked China

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

China’s women’s hockey team have invariably asserted their supremacy over India in Asian Games. Five wins in six encounters going into Wednesday’s tie sums up their dominance over the years with the lone Indian win coming at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. Let’s not forget that China – ranked 5th in the world – have won the Asiad gold thrice on the trot, diluting the stranglehold Korea used to have at this continental event (Korean have won it four times).

So given this scenario, the Indian women had a tough ask of halting the Chinese in their tracks. Of course, if the Ritu Rani-led side needed inspiration from any quarter, it was very much there – rewind to the 2013 Asia Cup in Ipoh, where India got the better of China 3-2 in a shootout after both teams were locked 2-2 in normal time to bag the bronze – that was some effort from the girls beating the reigning Asian champions – in the same event India gave the Chinese a tough fight before going down 0-1 in the league stage. And on Wednesday, the Indian eves brought their resilience to the fore, keeping the Chinese at bay in the opening quarter but it did not last long Liang

And on Wednesday, the Indian eves brought their resilience to the fore, keeping the Chinese at bay in the opening quarter, but it did not last long as Liang Meiyu gave their side the lead off a penalty corner exercise after goalie pulled off a decent save in the 19th minute. India ensured Chinese joy was short-lived as Jaspreet Kaur soon made the most of a penalty stroke as both teams went into half-time locked 1-1. China sprayed the ball around in the Indian ‘D’, but they were thwarted each time. Li Dongxiao essayed a good run but was foiled by the Indian defenders.
India muffed up a chance to make it 2-1 off a short corner when Rani’s shot was well-saved by the Chinese shot stopper. Indian defence survived some anxious moments in the final quarter – goalie Savie blocked a Chinese PC opportunity. Four minutes before the final hooter, India could have had the last laugh, but Jaspreet Kaur’s PC flick sailed over the bar. China made India pay for that PC lapse as Zhao Yudiao scored a field goal one minute from the final hooter to ensure their sixth Asian Games win over India.

Clearly, the Indian eves have every right to feel hard done by the final outcome after even coming close to not just drawing, but also pulling off a surprise win. India never looked like a world number 13 side playing the 5th ranked side – something they can be proud of even as they experience the ‘so near yet so far’ syndrome.

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