GOLD COAST: The India women’s hockey team registered their first victory of the ongoing Commonwealth Games campaign after beating Malaysia 4-1 in their second match of Pool A.
Two goals from Gurjit Kaur (6’, 39’) and a goal each from skipper Rani (56’) and Lalremsiami (59’) saw the Indians secure a morale-boosting victory against their Asian counterparts. The only goal for Malaysia was scored by Nuraini Rashid in the 38th minute.
India started the first quarter with electric pace and made chances inside the first minute itself. The team looked to press their opposition high up the pitch, which saw them regain possession quickly and make circle entries inside Malaysia’s striking circle. India won three Penalty Corners (PC) in the first quarter, the last of which was converted successfully by drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur to give India a crucial lead in the 6th minute. Towards the latter stages of the first period, it was Malaysia who looked to hit back with a goal by creating chances, but India’s defence made sure that the team maintained their lead at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, both the teams looked aggressive in their intent. While India wanted to stamp their authority on the match by getting a second goal, Malaysia on the other hand wanted to find an equaliser but neither team could achieve their goal as it was a fairly balanced second quarter. The Indian team utilized both the flanks to penetrate through Malaysia’s defence, but the latter kept their shape and made sure of not allowing India too much space.
After the half-time break, it was India who were unable to extend their lead as Neha Goyal’s goal was disallowed when the ball was adjudged to have hit Poonam Rani’s foot during the build-up of the goal. Malaysia on the other hand were struggling to create many chances, but their efficiency in the 38th minute saw them convert a Penalty Corner through Nuraini Rashid to equalise the scores and disappoint the Indians.
However, the disappointment did not stay for long just a minute later, India regained their lead when Gurjit Kaur stroked a powerful flick above the Malaysian goalkeeper to convert her second Penalty Corner of the match. The Indians continued to make surging runs into the opposition’s half but their Asian counterparts maintained a good defensive shape to deny the World No. 10 side.
It was a crucial last quarter for both the teams as India looked to hold onto their lead and secure the three points, while the World No. 22 side needed to score a goal quickly in order to make their way back into the match. India maintained their attacking flair in the final quarter as they kept the pressure on their opponents. It was in the 56th minute when Neha Goyal made a darting run from the right flank, avoiding challenges from multiple defenders and passing the ball past the Malaysian Goalkeeper towards Rani who was given a single tap-in into the back of the net to extend India’s lead to 3-1.
The Indian team continued to attack their opponents and were rewarded in the 59th minute with a fourth goal when Lalremsiami carried the ball up-field into the striking circle for a counter attack and passed it to Vandana Katariya, whose return pass was calmly finished off by Lalremsiami to secure a convincing victory.