Tokyo (Japan): The Indian Women’s Hockey team held the World No. 2 Australian team to a 2-2 draw today in their second round-robin match of the Olympic Test Event held here at the Oi Hockey Stadium.
The match saw India twice cancel Australia’s lead to earn themselves a hard-fought draw with Kaitlin Nobbs (14′) and Grace Stewart (43′) scoring for the Australians, while Vandana Katariya (36′) and Gurjit Kaur (59′) scoring for India.
World No. 10 India started the match aggressively, matching Australia’s attacking hockey with their own which saw both teams earn Penalty Corners, however, neither managed to score. It was only in the 14th minute that Australia were awarded a Penalty Stroke after an Indian defender blocked a shot at goal.
Australia’s Kaitlin Nobbs made no mistake in converting from the spot to give her side a 1-0 advantage. The World No. 2 side dominated the second quarter completely, putting the Indian team under intense pressure through multiple attacks and Penalty Corners. But India’s defence held firm and Goalkeeper Savita made a couple of great saves to deny her opponents as Australia took their lead into the half-time break.
The starting of the third quarter again saw Australia dominate possession and creating a couple of goal-scoring opportunities through Penalty Corners, however, Savita made fine saves again to deny the Australians. On the other hand, it was India who struck on the break as Vandana Katariya finished off a superb team-move to equalize for her team in the 36th minute. But the lead did not last for much time as Australia started to look for their second goal. It was in the 43rd minute that they finally found a second through some exquisite teamwork, which saw Grace Stewart also registering her name on the score-sheet and giving Australia a 2-1 lead.
It was a tough ask for the Indian team as Australia played well, and did not give them enough space inside the striking circle. However, the World No. 10 team showed determination as they kept looking for the equalizer in the last quarter. With moves breaking down, and chances going begging, it looked like Australia would hold onto their 2-1 lead, but with just a couple of minutes remaining on the clock, India won themselves a crucial Penalty Corner in the 59th minute. India’s prolific drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur stepped up, and struck a sweet blow into the back of the net, to earn her side a well-deserved draw.
The Indian Women’s Team will now face China on Tuesday, 20th August 2019 at 16.15hrs IST in their third and last round-robin match of the tournament.