7th Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup: Much-improved India beat New Zealand to boost quarterfinal hopes
A lot was at stake for the Indian team in the 7th Junior Women’s World Cup in Monchengladbach. A 6-1 pounding at the hands of Australia in the tournament opener left them deflated with no option but to pick up the pieces in their second game against New Zealand.
Another heavy defeat like the one on Saturday would have drawn the curtains on the Indian hopes of reaching the quarterfinals.
And the Sushila Chanu-led side was no way going to let the billion hockey fans down with another disappointment.
The Blueskirts fought hard against the Black Sticks and did not give them the open spaces to breach their defence.
Both teams created enough scoring chances but goals eluded them in the first half as the half-time scoreline read 0-0.
India looked more assured in the second half with the forwardline of experienced Rani Rampal, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya and Anupa Barla showing a lot of enterprise upfront.
The positive intent of the Indians paid off when rookie Manjit Kaur – who made her senior international debut in the recent Hockey World League Round 3 event in Rotterdam – drawing first blood in the 45th minute.
Six minutes later, Vandana Katariya triggered more celebrations in the Indian camp when she doubled the lead scoring a superb reverse shot goal to push New Zealand on the backfoot.
The Black Sticks had nineteen minutes to make a match of it, but the Indians exuded dollops of resolve to deny them any goal for a hard-fought 2-0 win.
It’s a sweet coincidence that Indian eves had defeated New Zealand by the same margin in the last edition in 2009 in Boston, in the 9th-10th place play-off tie to take the ninth spot.
The win has certainly boosted India’s quarterfinal hopes, but a lot will depend on the Australia-New Zealand game on Tuesday.
India will be hoping for an Australian win as it will enable them to qualify for the last eight stage along with the Jillaroos from Group C.
On their part, India must look to beat Russia comprehensively in their final league game on Tuesday.
The Aussies drubbed Russia 6-0 to go atop Pool C.
In other matches, reigning champions Netherlands thumped USA 5-1 while 2009 runners-up Argenitina were held to a 3-3 draw by South Africa.
Twice former champions Korea crushed Ghana 9-0. China pipped Canada 2-1 in another tie.